Published April, 2015

My search for a great portrayal of BDSM in mainstream film has produced the project-in-progress below.



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      Best BDSM Films

By Simone Justice

Updated 8/7/15

I hope that you benefit from this list I gleaned from many many hours of watching mainstream films seeking great BDSM scenes, characters or references.  I’m still waiting for a mainstream movie about BDSM with a realistic and hot portrayal that really does BDSM justice!  In the meantime, here is my list of the best I have seen so far.


I only list movies showing consensual BDSM scenes.

1.   Maitresse directed by Barbet Schroeder, 1975

This is the best portrait of a dominatrix in a movie that I have seen so far.  I love the butler scene.  Also like the well-executed slap to Gerard Depardieu’s face.  The CBT scene is real; it was doubled by a dominatrix friend of the director.  She also called in her real slaves for the play party scene, she just told them to show up, they had no idea what was going to happen that day, but they all obeyed. However, this movie has the same plot problem as several other movies, because what the dominatrix (who works for a man) really wants is to be saved by a man who is not submissive to her.  

2.   Tokyo Decadence directed by Ryu Murakami, 1992

About a female Japanese switch going on outcalls, she has some very hot scenes as both S and M, however, the last third of this movie is terrible and has no S&M.  When she gets on the train, turn it off!  I like the scene she has with the successful dominatrix and how it ends – sexy.

3.   Secretary directed by Steven Shainberg, 2002

This movie starts out with an accurate portrayal of BDSM, then strays into silliness.  Putting aside the issues, excellent actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader enjoy consensual BDSM including bondage and spanking, in a fairly good portrayal of a D/s relationship.  Certain elements do not hold up to scrutiny such as the ignorance of Mr. Spader’s character about BDSM despite his use of heavy bondage gear.  But the issue of his conflicted self-judgment about enjoying domination rings true.  The second half of the movie becomes ridiculous once the news crew arrives.

4.   New Love In Tokyo directed by Banmei Takahashi, 1994

About a dominatrix who works at a house in Japan.  There is one great scene where the dominatrix breaks a new obnoxious client.  Some other good scenes.  Turn it off at the end when the slideshow of the main female characters starts…that is all you get until the end.

5.   Venus in Fur directed by Roman Polanski, 2013

This is not a movie version of the book “Venus in Furs”, it is a drama about a director searching for the perfect woman to play the lead in his play based on the book.  Emmanuelle Seigner channels the Goddess of his fantasies and makes his play come to life, bringing out his submissive side in the process.  I liked her commentary on the book, I had some of the same thoughts when I read it.

6.   Preaching to The Perverted directed by Stuart Urban, 1998

The dominatrix in this movie is hot.  And she has some personal slaves who serve her sexually, which is hot. But the plot is similar to that of Exit to Eden in that what she really wants is straight sex and it just takes the right man to show her.  Ridiculous.

7.   My Mistress directed by Stephen Lance, 2014

This movie lures us in with the promise of the lovely Emanuelle Beart playing a dominatrix, and we do see glimpses of her dominatrix persona but the one time we really see her in action is from the perspective of laughing about her humiliating a client.  Her character is a troubled woman, controlled by a man and using a boy to prop herself up. The part that I liked was the boy’s fascination with her and his desire to be dominated, which is a realistic portrayal of submission.

8.  SM Rechter directed by Erik Lamens, 2009

Based on a true story about a Belgian judge who was sentenced for BDSM play with his wife.  I liked the focus on the relationship and how BDSM changed their marriage, rather than on showing sensationalized play.  A very human and real portrayal of a couple's exploration of BDSM.

9.   Story of O directed by Just Jaeckin, 1975

The S&M classic book that shocked the world was made into a so-so movie.  The ending and other aspects were changed to no positive effect.  Anyone interested in BDSM should be familiar with this story about a female slave dominated by male masters.

10.   Lies directed by Sun-Woo Jang, 1999

Full disclosure = I couldn’t watch this whole movie because the handheld camera shakes so much it nauseated me, so I don’t know how it ends. What I did see was a Japanese girl and older man engaging in consensual play that grows increasingly extreme. Hopefully, it didn’t end like so many other movies with escalation to suicide-by-dom.  I’m going on the recommendation of others who liked it.


These mainstream movies have short scenes that reference or show BDSM in a mostly non-judgmental or funny way that contributes to the understanding and acceptance of BDSM.

1.   Belle Du Jour directed by Luis Bunuel, 1967

One of the sexiest most beautiful women ever, Catherine Deneuve, fantasizes about being flogged.

2.   Grosse Point Blank directed by George Armitage, 1997

I love the moment when Minnie Driver slaps John Cusack’s face and he glows with a delighted reaction, then he also says one line about bondage.

3.   Charlie’s Angels directed by McG, 2000

Lucy Liu a very dominatrixy corporate efficiency expert complete with leather suit and cane.

4.   Bitter Moon directed by Roman Polanski, 1992

The couple explores S&M; Emmanuelle Seigner gives a golden shower in one scene then later humiliates Peter Coyote while he wears a pig mask. However, overall their relationship is unhealthy.

5.   Mr. and Mrs. Smith directed by Doug Limon, 2005

Opens with Angelina Jolie disguised as a dominatrix on an outcall.

6.   Head In The Clouds directed by John Duigan, 2004

Charlize Theron seeks revenge on a man who hurt a friend with non-consensual beatings, by doing the same to him.  The bondage is ridiculous as he could easily free himself, but the way she stands over him and the shoe worship is realistic and hot.

7.   A Dangerous Method directed by David Cronenberg, 2011

Keira Knightley’s character has masochistic desires that are met by her lover with consensual spankings and whippings in two short scenes.

8.   DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2004

No BDSM play, but a funny scene when shipments are mixed up so the dodge ball team has to wear S&M outfits.

9.   EuroTrip directed by Jeff Schaffer, 2004

Funny scenes, with Lucy Lawless playing a dominatrix who issues an interesting safeword.  Skip the rest of the movie.

10.                After Hours directed by Martin Scorsese, 1985

One of my all time favorite movies includes some funny BDSM situations featuring Linda Fiorentino and Will Patton. I love the “lack of discipline” line.

11.                Tomcats directed by Gregory Poirier, 2001

A minor character is a mild-mannered librarian, who quickly transforms into a domme.  Full disclosure = I consulted on this movie.

12.                One Night At McCool’s directed by Harald Zwart, 2001

Fast forward through this movie.  One short scene of Liv Tyler dominating Paul Reiser with a crop. Later at the end of the movie, he wears a harness and chaps, and there is some funny business about his outfit.  I like the Village People line.


These movies perpetuate the idea that S&M = violent beatings and/or abusive relationships.  I’m also against public play that infringes on the rights of non-consenting bystanders.

1.   Payback directed by Brian Helgeland, 1999.

Lucy Liu is always sizzling hot, but she plays a far too violent and bitchy dominatrix who won’t stop when her client asks her to, absolutely ridiculous!

2.   R100 directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2013.

Silly plot-thin movie about an agency (run by a man), that offers a service of women suddenly attacking and brutally beating men in public.  Not BDSM, in my opinion.  But the Asian dommes are very attractive and well dressed.

3.   Tied (Une Histoire D’Amour) directed by Helene Fillieres, 2013.

I liked the production value on this movie, the sets, costumes, cinematography, and the acting is good.  The problem is the story.  I am so tired of seeing abusive relationships mistaken for BDSM! The main male character manipulates and abuses his play partner throughout the film. He treats her like an object by throwing her into awful situations and ignores her insistence that she does not want his money and that she wants to marry him.  It is accurate when he calls her his “sex toy”, this is not BDSM which is a consensual agreement with respect for boundaries and emotions.  Also, like so many other movies, they could have used a BDSM consultant.

4.   All The Marquis de Sade movies!!

Putting aside that his works were mostly non-consensual acts so they wouldn’t make my list anyway, so far every single movie that I have seen which is based on his writing and all of the ones based on his life (de Sade, Marat/Sade, Quills) are abysmal.

5.   Likewise, all the Venus in Furs movies, except Roman Polanski’s VinF-inspired, listed above.

6.   50 Shades of Grey directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, 2015

To be clear, this is actually a romance of the Harlequin sort where a young innocent saves a troubled man with a dark past through the power of her love, with some BDSM tossed in.  

 I was quite disappointed with Jamie Dornan’s performance.  His discomfort with BDSM, which he has stated publicly, is apparent in the movie, which further pathologizes BDSM.  He is stiff and passionless, not at all a compelling dominant.  Too bad they only had a few weeks to recast his part after Charlie Hunnam quit, who is so hot he could light a fire with just the twinkle in his blue eyes. On the other hand, Dakota Johnson does surprisingly well with a flat character and terrible lines proving that she is a good actress.  

The BDSM community has taken issue with the relationship and the BDSM play in these books/movie, and I concur.  And even though they had a consultant on set, there is some unsafe play in the movie (stomach whipping, slip knots).  My guess is the director chose to override the advice of the consultant.

Plus no experienced dominant would ever take a belt to a newbie sub without a warm-up, even if she begged. Furthermore, he does it in anger.  The job of a dominant is to protect your subs, even from yourself, if necessary.  I could go on pointing out more issues, but I won’t.


I do not consider non-consensual bondage, humiliation, torture, etc. to be BDSM, which is why some of these are not on this BDSM list. Others are here because they feature a dominatrix-ish female lead.

1.   Dangerous Beauty directed by Marshall Herskovitz, 1998.

This is a biography of a top Venetian courtesan in the 1570s.  Her clients, and her relationships with them as companion, consultant, diversion, muse, conversationalist, confidant, and object of adoration most closely resembles my experience as a dominatrix than any other movie I have seen.  Plus she does deduce a king’s secret submissive needs.

2.   The Thomas Crown Affair directed by John McTiernan, 1999.

Rene Russo has a dominatrix attitude that she honed from studying with Ava Taurel.

3.   The Last Seduction directed by John Dahl, 1994.

Linda Fiorentino is a femme fatale. That deep sultry voice!

4.   Reservoir Dogs directed by Quentin Tarantino, 1992.

Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) finds torture “amusing”.

5.   9 ½ Weeks directed by Adrian Lyne, 1986.

This relationship has non-consensual BDSM elements.  But I do like Mickey Rourke’s contained demeanor and just-above-whisper voice when he gives commands.

6.   Night Porter directed by Liliana Cavani, 1974.

In an example of Stockholm Syndrome, Charlotte Rampling renews an abusive relationship when she randomly encounters the Nazi who tortured her.


1.   Fetishes directed by Nick Broomfield, 1996.

Shot at the original Pandora’s Box location, features Arch Mistress Catherine who later owned the house where I started out, and Head Mistress Raven along with others.  There is some controversy over whether consent was obtained for all the scenes shot, and Raven expresses on camera her misgivings about being filmed.

2.   Whipped directed by Sasha Waters and Iana Porter, 1998.

Best documentary so far for real dominatrix spotting (Sonja Blaze, Mistress Carrie, Mistress Leda, Mistress Troy and more).

3.   Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan Supermasochist directed by Nick Kirby, 1997.

About artist Bob Flanagan and his collaborator and owner Mistress Sheree Rose.  Warning - this movie is emotionally intense as it documents his death.

4.   Kink directed by Christina Voros (produced by James Franco), 2013.

About Kink.com, some good interviews with knowledgeable and articulate kinksters, especially TomCat.  I like the part where a director senses and honors her sub actress’ needs by re-adjusting the scene, as a dominant does during play.  I don’t like that a few of the scenes are negotiated quickly and one guy is asked to do something on camera he has never even tried before.

5.   Didn’t Do It For Love directed by Monika Treut, 1997.

About legendary dominatrix Ava Taurel (RIP), this is far from ideal, it shows unflattering aspects of her personality and is not only about her years as a dominatrix.  It also shows controversial scenes of her playing with a partner whose ability to consent has been debated.  I kept waiting to see a long play scene, but it is interesting especially if you are into dominatrices.

6.   Interior. Leather Bar directed by Travis Mathews and James Franco, 2014.

Follows the production of a re-imagining of the missing 45 minutes cut from the leather bar scene in Cruising.  I liked that this movie showed the discomfort of various participants with the BDSM content, it is a study in attitudes. Also great to see Mr. Franco talk passionately about free-speech and artistic expression reasons for making the movie, however, it is curious when he leaves the set early without explanation. Interesting movie.  And has some sweet gay male BDSM.

This is a project-in-progress, I will update after I see more of the movies on my list, some are very hard to find and most are duds, so it is slow going, but my search goes on!  If you want to help me with this project, see my Amazon Wishlist “Movies for Simone”.

Hopefully, I will soon see two new movies that both look promising: The Duke of Burgundy and The Ceremony, which are now showing in limited release.  Plus there is a new BDSM documentary being filmed by Max Candy that looks promising to take the top doc spot!

Happy Watching,

Simone Justice