A young girl is locked in a room by a domineering mother. As she watches her mother dress through a keyhole, she reflects on a previous punishment.
As I stated in my review for "The Operation", often times directors will try to hide behind a veil of art, in an attempt to cover up the fact that they are filming a pornographic style and don't want it to be labeled as such. Though with Maria Beatty's "Let The Punishment Fit the Child" she does not hide the fact that her films are of an adult oriented nature with erotic and fetish themes. So much so she has received many awards and grants from art institutes for her to continue her work, which she has be going at since the late 80's, if not longer. Which made me feel like I've been living under a rock since this is the first time I've heard about her and her movies.
So, does "Let The Punishment Fit the Child" fit into the porn or art section, or does it straddle the line between the two? Well for me it seemed to fit more in with the pornography side than anything else, sure the movie does contain a sense of style but the erotic themes are more predominant than anything else. Now when I say pornography, I really don't mean the perverted stuff you watch on your computer when you think no one is around. There is a fetish theme to the movie, but it is more of an erotic nature than hardcore sex. The movie shows the relationship between two women, it is not clear however if this is a mother and child, or rather a couple in a role playing-SM game. What is clear though is there is a connection between the two, through dominance. The "mother" locks the "child" up in a room, where she watches the mother dress up in a vintage lingerie getup, while inter-cutting sequences of the mother spanking the child/daughter, in which the mother eventually reaches climax, shown only through actions as there is no sound in the movie. There is a little bit more that goes on in the movie, with the daughter being locked up in the room. She takes out her rage and what seems like sexual frustration, out on a series of mutilated baby-dolls, often times mirroring the scenes between the two characters.
As I said, the movie shows the relationship between two women, which is all I really got out of the movie, so it felt a little shallow to me. Does that mean that it's a bad movie, or that is all the movie has to offer? Not at all, the subtext of the movie could have very well have been lost with me. Then again, there could have been no subtext and what the movie showed was all that it wanted to show or say. As a lesson taught by Luis Bunuel with his movie "Un Chien Andalou", a movie can be made with no meaning but still have an impact on the viewer. Which so happens to be where, supposedly, Maria Beatty drew inspiration from. The erotic theme is played out very well here, but as far as the artistic style it fell a little short. It did have its moments but overall it didn't really offer anything unique, or do much to distinguish itself from all the other art-house/experimental movies that are made. While I was not impressed with "Let The Punishment Fit The Child" I am definitely curious about the other works of Beatty's and am looking forward to checking them out.