The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan,
Supermasochist. 1997

Director: Kirby Dick

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I did not wholeheartedly like Bob Flanaghan nor his dominatrix partner Sheree Rose, but I was mesmerized by what appeared to be a deep abiding love between two people bonded by perversion.

The fact that terminal illness (cystic fibrosis) hung over Bob's life lent a certain heroism to his quest for public fulfilment of deviance. I was more impressed by his dark sense of humor than by his ability to hammer a nail through his, well, you know.

The most moving part was a friendship struck with a young girl who also lived with cystic fibrosis. Bob was such an unlikely choice for this otherwise level-headed girl to embrace as her hero, & for her family to even tolerate. It said a lot about the boundless possibilities of tolerance & love.

Some will get a kick out of this tasteless film for the very reasons much of the Sundance audience walked out on it, for having shown close-up & in detail extreme acts of sexual self-injury, & for showing Bob's final moments & death. But to me, it is the material tucked in between "shocking" aspects of Bob's, uhm, "performance art," that make this something of a classic humane documentary.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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