9.3 10
2014 73min

The Ceremony

  • French
  • English

Production Companies

In an extravagant house in Paris, people gather for sexual ceremonies in luxurious environments. The 83-year-old author, Catherine Robbe-Grillet is the brains and heart behind the erotic role playing. She is the dominatrix who controls what goes on and her partner, who is 31 years her junior, has promised to submit to her smallest command. Lina Mannheimer portrays a puzzling, intellectual and deeply fascinating woman who, accompanied by her husband Alain Robbe-Grillet, has dedicated herself to investigating sex both in life and in literature. The sadomasochistic ceremonies are presented with an intense presence and cinematic focus in this beautiful and thought-provoking debut film about desire, power and silk scarves.

The ceremony, the lady and the house of sadomasochism

Catherine Robbe Grillet has been for decades a particular figure within the intellectual elite of Paris. Having been the wife of the well-known writer Alain Robbe Grillet, she has written several books, some of them extremely controversial for their provocative erotic content. In one of them, "Ceremonies de femmes" she tells her deepest passion: to organize elegant and sensual sadomasochistic ceremonies.

In this documentary, young Swedish director Lina Mannhaimer makes an artistic approach to the erotic world of this Parisian lady. The films portraits a woman committed to her most primitive pleasures, both physically and philosophically. The film is composed of revealing interviews including participants of her sadomasochistic ceremonies, which are captured in their most sober elegance, highlighting the sounds that emanate from the simpler movements, such as the steps of heels, the friction of leather gloves or the breathing of a young victim.

One of the most curious anecdotes of the film is the contract signed between Beverly Charpentier, one of the characters of the film, who is thirty years younger than Catherine and has decided to have her as her mistress, living under total obedience in everything she decides for the rest of her life. The film opens minds and pores in an experience of expectation that questions the relationships between human beings and the behaviors of a society that educates us to sublimate our most natural desires.

Crew