Professional intimacy takes center stage in Anja Marquardt's She's Lost Control. 'She' in this case is Ronah (Brooke Bloom), a thirty something, confident, determined woman pursuing a masters degree who makes living as a sexual
surrogate - arranged by her psychiatrist employer, she helps her clients who have physical and emotional intimacy problems by providing a safe mind space where they can explore physical intimacy. She's Lost Control is not some skin deep exploitation film about a sex worker, nor is it some romantic melodrama. Marquardt's brooding exploration has almost a look and feel of a clinical documentary.
Ronah is a complicated woman. She gives everything to help bring out these damaged men from their shells. Yet her private life is less than ideal- she leads a lonely life in a tiny, characterless New York apartment with bad plumbing. She willfully ignores her brother who desperately needs her help in looking after their senile mother in upstate NY. She frequently visits a fertility clinic to freeze her eggs, just in case she wants a child in the future. Then there is a phone stalker (presumably a former client) who is making her life miserable.
Things change when she takes on a new client, Johnny, a brooding, deeply withdrawn doctor. He is a hard nut to crack. One day it's a success and next it's terrible. It's a brutal tug of war - she uses different exercises and charms to bring him out with uneven successes. He can't trust Ronah's earnestness completely and certain small details turn him off to be intimate with her. She finally succeeds in making him sustain eye contact. However tough Johnny is as a client, Ronah slowly begins to finds solace in their relationship while her private life falls apart.
Bloom gives a truly brave performance as Ronah. She is at once strong and vulnerable,
wise and naive, plain and seductive. Marc Menchaca is also great as Johnny, a hulking, deeply wounded man. There is an amazing scene with Johnny and Ronah looking directly into the camera and addressing each other. It's one of the most powerful scenes I've experienced in cinema in quite a while.
She's Lost Control reflects on our society where true intimacy is becoming rarer, let alone general human contact.
After debuting at this year's Berlinale, She's Lost Control plays as part of ND/NF 2014, on 3/29, 9pm and again 3/30, 4:30pm. For tickets, please visit ND/NF website.
Dustin Chang is a freelance writer. His musings and opinions on the world can be found at www.dustinchang.com