Conspirators Of Pleasure

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Six outwardly normal individuals indulge in secret, and really rather bizarre, fetishes in the privacy of their own homes.


It seems likely that Czech surrealist genius Jan Svankmajer has been sampling bootleg Cronenberg tapes, since this latest masterpiece makes a strange companion piece to Crash, while drawing on the images of Videodrome. A wordless charade, it follows a group of lonely Prague denizens as they labour through the week on projects that set up their Sundays: one man makes a cockerel mask from porn magazines and wings from umbrellas; a postwoman fills her head with bread; a policeman creates fetish surfaces from household objects; a newsreader buys fresh carp; and a newsagent builds an interactive tactile device that connects with his TV.

Svankmajer follows the process of these projects with Blue Peter-like detail, only gradually letting the specific function of the erotic machines become apparent. For an hour, this appears to be the director's first all live-action feature, but when Sunday comes and these solitary strangers cut loose, so does Svankmajer's provocative technique, as a couple abuse life-size dolls in each other's images.

It seems gentler than Crash, but is a harsher vision: Svankmajer's perverts, though linked, are in the end alone.