Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)

If you are at all likely to be upset by adult content, or the idea of someone enjoying something you might find repulsive, then please don't click through. 3, 2, 1 ... click!

You know how Tracy Jordan spent the summer one year making his "biopic", Hard to Watch? He shouldn't have bothered. director Kirby Dick already made that movie...

Bob Flanagan, one of the oldest living sufferers of cystic fibrosis, has made a virtue out of the pain he's lived with for the last 43 years... he's a masochist. Articulate, amusing, and with the absolute blackest sense of humour, Flanagan takes pleasure in pain. He loves humiliation, domination, and what most people would describe as torture visited upon his body. I don't pretend to know anything about BDSM, but whatever you're into is fine with me. So long as there's consent involved, I'll keep to my knitting. What interests me, however, are people's motivations. And that's what the film delivers in spades.

It's not giving too much away to suggest Flanagan uses masochism as a way to regain control of his body, but aside from Flanagan's art projects, the real meat of the story lies in what happens when Flanagan is too sick to be able to fulfil his part of his relationship with his dominant partner, Sheree Rose. This is a strange, strained love story, bereft of the usual cloying maudlin tones until the very end.

Conversation starters

  • Sincerely, there is some stuff in this film that is unsuitable for those without broad minds and strong stomachs. But we're here to be challenged, right?
  • Sheree's mother was terrifying! I seem to encounter shrieking old women at least once a week on this site... sigh.
  • Bob sings, "It's fun to be dead!" over the closing credits

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