Netflix’s BDSM Romcom ‘Love and Leashes’ is Funny and Sincere

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: Love never hurt so good for two co-workers who enter a contractual relationship as partners in consensual play, pleasure and pain.

Review: It’s 2022 and most of us likes to think of ourselves as progressive and more accepting of other’s choices. But the truth is we all have our hang-ups and certain topics are still considered taboo, BDSM being one of them. The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy may have been a huge financial success but those films got a lot of backlash (deservedly so) from people who actually DO enjoy a BDSM lifestyle. While Fifty Shades took on the topic of a dominant/submissive relationship as purely sexual and something to be ashamed of, films such as 2002’s Secretary took a much more sincere route as does Netflix’s romantic comedy/drama, Love and Leashes.

I’m not wearing any underwear

This South Korean film introduces us to Ji-woo (Seohyun) a beautiful, self-assured woman who’s very good at her job but has to constantly put up with her chauvinistic boss. Things take an interesting turn when the similarly named Ji-hoo (Joon-Young Lee) joins her PR team and after accidentally opening a package meant for him she realizes he’s into S&M. Ji-woo finds herself drawn to Ji-hoo and his lifestyle and becomes his “Master/Mistress”. But as they get to know each other it becomes harder to keep their relationship defined by a contract.

Director and writer Hyeon-jin Park does something wonderful with this still somewhat taboo subject and that’s treat it with sincerity and a whole lot of realism. Like the aforementioned Secretary you can tell they did proper research into the topic showing it not just as another sexual fetish but as a lifestyle that like any other brings some form of happiness to the people who take part in it.

I’m going to need you to wear this

Not only that but the romantic and comedic elements are well balanced with the more dramatic ones. A large part of this movie’s success also lies with our leads who share the kind of instantaneous and lasting chemistry always needed to make a romcom jump off the screen for viewers.

Even the actors who don’t have as a big a role manage to leave their mark, with the standouts being Sanyee Yuan as Hana, Ji-Hoo’s resentful ex-girlfriend, and Lee El as Hye Mi, Ji-Woo’s best friend who also lives the S&M lifestyle. The movie also explores the hypocrisy in the workplace that women tend to suffer through. Ji-woo basically runs her entire division and is a huge part of why they are successful and yet her boss talks down to her as if she’s an idiot or a child. Both of our leads are made to feel like perverts for what amounts to a consensual relationship between two adults and yet it’s revealed there are those who are having illicit affairs left and right. It was just another smart way of putting a positive light on the subject matter.

Now whip it, Into shape, Shape it up, Get straight

For those of you wondering about the “sexy-bits”, you might be a tad disappointed as Love and Leashes is played more as a straightforward romantic comedy and not an excuse to get all nasty a la 365 Days. While they do explore the lifestyle, showing us scenes of bondage, tickle play and the like, this story is less about fetishising the theme and more about humanising it, and that’s something I can both admire and enjoy.

At the end of the day everyone is looking for that special connection, for someone who accepts you for who you are. And while I don’t see Love and Leashes being wholly embraced by everyone who sees it, I for one can appreciate the heart behind it all.

Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10

And you can check out more great Korean content below:

‘ONE CUT OF THE DEAD’ IS A HILARIOUSLY META ZOMCOM
NETFLIX’S ‘SPACE SWEEPERS’ IS A WICKEDLY FUN SPACE OPERA
NETFLIX FANTASY K-DRAMA ‘THE UNCANNY COUNTER’ S1 IS THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINING

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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