Netflix South Korean film “Love and Leashes” beautifully breaks the “bondage” of stereotypes in mainstream media and ushers in a revolution not only in Korean cinema, but also in global cinema. Unlike Christian Grey’s world of intimacy, the film brings a healthy perspective towards physical relationships and educates the audience regarding the same. Moreover, the film digs deep into the complexities of a relationship that most dreamy romantic comedies fail to address.
An Offbeat Rendezvous
Jung Ji Hoo is the newly transferred assistant manager to the PR team of CenKids.co. On his first day at work, he has a virtuous encounter with his cold-faced but good-natured subordinate, Jung Ji Woo. Their story begins with a mistaken parcel, followed by a series of awkward misunderstandings, and leads to an uncanny revelation that changes their lives.
Unlike a usual romance, the two begin a contractual Dom-Sub relationship to explore their fantasies. But how far will a relationship that started with purely physical pleasure thrive when one starts to feel something more? Will the equality of lovers preserve the power dynamics of a Dom and a Sub?
Understanding Masculine And Feminine
For years, the mainstream media has set rigid standards for what’s masculine and what’s feminine. Men are expected to be dominant and powerful and chase the women they are attracted to. Women are expected to be submissive and passive, willing to merely give in to the command. Most media ignore any possibility that deviates from these predetermined norms. This approach is not only unrealistic but also unfair as it denies people their freedom of choice and expression.
In the film, while Ji Hoo’s character is portrayed as submissive, he is in no way shown as less masculine. Similarly, despite being dominant, Ji Woo’s character is not portrayed as less feminine. If anything, these characters are seen as grossly misunderstood by others. “Love and Leashes” highlights the struggles of self-acceptance and feeling true to one’s gender that most people go through.
An Agreement Of Respect And Mutual Consent
It is a common myth that bold roleplaying is a non-consensual and abusive practice that only perverts indulge in. “Love and Leashes” breaks this misconception by showing that perfectly normal and consensual adults can indulge in it as a healthy part of their lifestyle. Despite taking pleasure in the vertical power dynamics, the partners involved are respectful of each other and often have more communication than in any other relationship. The act of boldness is just roleplay and does not affect who a person is in their professional or personal life.
Can Love And Leashes Co-Exist?
At the beginning of “Love and Leashes,” Ji Woo believes that a vertical relationship between a Dom and a Sub cannot coincide with romance. Her beliefs are reaffirmed by her research on dom-sub relationships. Despite this, she can’t help but fall for Jung Ji Hoon. Throughout the film, it is established that having kinks does not mean that a person is incapable of love. People can try dating while in a dom-sub relationship. It normalizes it and explains how one should not be marginalized for having bold interests.
Nevertheless, the film did show an almost black-and-white distinction between love and fetishes. It (perhaps unintentionally) implies that kinks are limited to strict rules of whips and leather. In reality, indulgences are all about individual choice. These practices are not limited to a specific community or set of regulations but can be explored by anyone, with varying magnitudes. While the film did its best to be factual and informative, the distinction can be slightly misleading to viewers who are new to this concept.
Is It A Grave Matter?
Most movies that talk about such physical intimacy consist of a somber ambiance and a mysterious soundtrack to highlight the “darkness” of the genre (like in Fifty Shades of Grey). One of the best things about the film is that it uses humor and a lighthearted tone to illustrate a concept that can be provocative. The film’s upbeat tone is effective in normalizing bold fantasies and educating the audience. It eliminates any guilt or shame associated with pleasure and promotes a healthy approach.
Like many experimental Korean films and dramas, “Love and Leashes” also made the mistake of “sticking to the topic” too much. While the actors did an excellent job with their roles, the chemistry between them may have been lost in the direction. The story seemed to focus more on the “leashes” than on the “love,” and it definitely would not hurt to be a little more cheerful. Regardless, the slight glitch should not change one’s mind about watching the film, as it is a cinematic delight overall. To all fans and non-fans of Korean dramas and films, here is one that you do not want to miss!