Title: A Thought of Ecstasy

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Adult / Romance / Mystery

Language: English / German

Runtime: 90 min

Director: Rolf Peter Kahl

Writer: Rolf Peter Kahl & Torsten Neumann

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6098794/

In 2019, a man goes to America to find his lost love. In the midst of the heatwave, he follows every step of a book to find her, but instead he finds himself in a destructive world of paranoia and lust.

Our thoughts:
Ever since we reviewed Rolf Peter Kahl's "Bedways" a few years ago, I've kept my eyes open to his next projects. "A Thought of Ecstasy" is his follow-up feature, and it mainly follows the same path that "Bedways" laid down. It's a psychosexual drama that focuses more on the artistry of erotica and photography than it does the story it's telling or the characters. That certainly means that there will be a divisive audience for this movie depending on what you want from it. Going into a work like this and focusing solely on the story could hurt your overall enjoyment. Personally I have an interest in this type of photography and thus appreciate what Kahl's work does on a purely visual level more than what it has to say.

The story is set in 2019, where a German man goes to America during an extreme heatwave to find his lost love who left for America some time ago. A book made him relive his memories of her, but not that he's actually there in person he seems to be able to track her down. At the same time, he's stuck in a destructive place where he becomes entangled into the secret life of a mysterious woman. When he finds her tied up in a basement with a masked man whipping her while a camera is filming, he's intrigued to find out more.

The issues with the plot go all the way back to "the year 2019". There is no real reason for this movie to be set in the future, not is there any real point in having it set during a world record warm heatwave. They seem like details that were left in from early in the idea process, but never ended up having much significance on the actual story. Putting that aside, the plot of a German man looking for his love in America and getting wrapped up in a deviant world is not bad at all! That's exactly the kind of plot needed to drive the movie forward to its, undoubtedly, more important sex scenes. The story isn't too meaty, and I think there's a reason for that. Purely as a vehicle to get to the more artsier pornographic scenes, the story does what it should, though its narration and characters may be a bit pretentious.

I knew all of this going in! I enjoyed "Bedways" for what it was, and I think "A Thought of Ecstasy" lives up to the same ideas. Its plot could just as well have been constructed after shooting, tied together with narration, but it doesn't matter when the focus is obviously the erotica. There is one thing that was brought up that makes a good point though; it's not prostitution if it's filmed!

The sexual scenes are certainly getting their point across. There's a mixture of BDSM, sexy dances, penetration, oral sex, sex in public, ideas of prostitution etc. Most of it is well photographed as well. It doesn't mind showing it all, but it wants to tease you with it. It's not really porn even though it's pornographic, if that makes sense. When it shows something, it's usually quick no matter how graphic it is.

In the lead role of Frank we have Rolf Peter Kahl himself, and since he mostly acts as a voyeur I think he does a decent job there. The ones that do stand out for their parts are Ava Verne as Nina and Deborah Kara Unger as Liz. Ava plays the "prostitute" that Kahl's character becomes invested in, and she's perhaps the most important role in the movie. I suppose that's obvious, as she plays the object of desire in an erotic film. Deborah Kara Unger is the agent of the author of the book that brought him there, and the most talented actress of the bunch (and stands out as such).

"A Thought of Ecstasy" puts the story in the backseat, and focuses on its erotica. There is an elegance to the sexual photography, as expected from someone like Rolf Peter Kahl. There are pointless details in the story, but once it is on the main path it works as glue for the erotic stuff. Perhaps Rolf Peter Kahl's work would be more appreciated as short films or an anthology, but overall this was an interesting experience to me.

Positive things:
- The focus is the erotica, and those scenes work well.
- The main story works as a way to move the movie further to its more rique bits.
Negative things:
- The movie didn't need to be set in the future or during an extreme heatwave.
- Could have worked well if it was cut down into short films, or an anthology with a running theme.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 5/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 0/5
Comedy: 1/5

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