In the surprisingly flaccid s&m potboiler Going Under, Roger Rees gives a master class in how to suffer for art. The 62-year-old British stage vet undergoes multiple genital piercings, submits to a bare-ass beating with a riding crop, gets clawed with Edward Scissorhands prosthetics, and endures numerous humiliations—not the least of which involves squandering his considerable talent on a trashy B movie far beneath his stature. Playing more nude scenes than would be contractually possible with an actor half his age, he writhes in passion and agony, furrowing his bushy brows and contorting his weathered face to squeeze some life out of his one-note character, a therapist obsessed with the dominatrix who dumps him just as they were about to turn their business relationship into an affair. No one else in the cast comes close; some don’t even bother to act at all. At times, inchoate ideas (emotional wounds hurt deeper than physical pain?) threaten to congeal into an actual theme, but that turns out to be, like the rest of the film, a drawn-out tease. Just because Rees can play a masochist doesn’t mean viewers have to.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2006