'Love and Leashes' Review: A raunchy and educational guide to dom and sub relationships
When it comes to BDSM, there is often a misconception that ties it to sexual deviancy. But the truth is, there are a lot more intricacies to the dynamics of the same. For starters, not every submissive and dominant relationship is sexual. There are layers to it that explore power dynamics and so much more. With that in mind, 'Love and Leashes' indeed aims to be your starter back to understanding what these partnerships entail.
For Jung Ji-woo, her work life is not easy. Stuck under an incompetent and sexist boss, Hwang, Ji-woo often comes off as cold, a persona she has built over the years to be taken seriously. It doesn't particularly bother her, as she is aware that being brutally honest and rational is a part of her personality. When Jung Ji-hoo joins her PR department as the assistant manager, she, like most women in her office, is attracted to him; however, being the person she is, she refuses to fawn over him. When a mix-up over a parcel due to the similarities in their name causes her to find out that Ji-hoo is actually into dom and sub play, they soon enter a partnership, purely restricted to sensory play and nothing sexual.
While Jiwoo begins to develop feelings for Ji-hoo, he is afraid to get romantically involved due to his past relationship. Things certainly take a turn for the worse when an audio is released of them engaging in dom and sub play in the office, threatening to ruin their careers.
The movie handles the difference between BDSM and a dom and sub relationship well, emphasizing a difference between the two. Ji-woo takes time to research and understand the difference between navigating unfamiliar territory to her. It deviated from making her giddy-headed about the whole experience right from the get-go, which is honestly refreshing to watch. While she is thorough with her research, the two maintain an apparent boundary that their relationship is void of sex and serves only the purpose of filling their needs outside of it.
Ji-hoo's character arc is particularly interesting, as he deals with the joy of finally finding someone who understands his kinks without shaming him for it. The wounds of his past relationship with a woman named Hana are still fresh, and Lee Jun-young does a great job at translating that on screen. Seo Hyun, too, goes from navigating being Ji-hoo's "master" to having feelings for him, with shots of her wanting for more but never acting on it due to their contract.
Another poignant subplot that the movie focuses on is consent. When Hyemi, Ji-woo's friend, tries to engage in dom and sub play, she nearly gets assaulted by a man who tries to rape her. The movie takes this opportunity to explain that BDSM and dom and sub play require consent even though there is a power dynamic.
'Love and Leashes' certainly has many layers to it, and if you're looking for a movie about sexual freedom, expression, and acceptance, then this is undoubtedly it.
'Love and Leashes' is now streaming on Netflix.