by Rich Moreland, September 2017
This is the second installment of my review/analysis of The Submission Of Emma Marx: Evolved, a New Sensations film written and directed by Jacky St. James.
* * *
When Mariah pleads with Emma to teach her about BDSM because she is “in dire need of discipline,” Emma explains that the fetish is all about “practice and training” and asks Mariah why she wants this so badly.
Her response is a nod to all BDSMers.
It’s who she is, Mariah says.
So Emma agrees to take Mariah on her journey. The film moves through brief scenes of Mariah’s education. The best are those surrounding “slave training” when Emma teaches the neophyte to arch her back and open her legs for inspection.
There is a collar for Mariah to wear and shots of spanking and caning with tasks that come with the instruction, “please you dominant.” Emma tells Mariah, “Most important, find joy in what you are doing. When it stops being enjoyable, it’s probably not for you anymore.”
Later after her first real BDSM encounter with a Dom named Nicholas (Jay Smooth), Mariah asks Emma how can she ever return to normal sex?
What Mariah is experiencing now is normal for her, Emma says.
Emma informs Mariah that she belongs in this world. It’s just not the way she came to know it when she realized she was a submissive.
In other words, Emma implies that her pupil’s early experiences were limited to physical sensation. Now she is progressing beyond those restrictions and becoming more spiritual in a sexual way.
Mariah’s character poses the question Jacky as writer and director addresses in her BDSM films; that is, how do we define normal? Part of this conundrum is to accept that different does not mean not normal.
In other words, if a fetish is legal and doesn’t harm anyone, then it passes the normal test. Of course, this is not something people who are vanilla oriented necessarily believe, or even want to consider. To put it another way, according to Jacky St. James, the definition of normal sexuality is broad and expanding and someday may not exist at all.
It’s the battle feminism has fought for decades in its effort to escape female sexual circumscription.
Normal is what we make of how we express ourselves. Emma has cleared this hurdle under Mr. Frederick’s guidance. She’ll do the same now for Mariah.
To best understand this idea, contrast Mariah’s first sex scene which served no deeper purpose than to have some fun. As mentioned above, when Emma as tutor and trainer sets up Mariah’s experience with Nicholas, she is satisfying Mariah’s needs beyond fleeting physical sensation.
In other words, Mariah is enriching her sexuality with psychological meaning, becoming sexually aware and mature: a reflection of the journey Emma has already taken.
By the way, notice how Emma persuades Mariah to select a dominant for the scene. Once again, Jacky St James reinforces the hegemony of female choice, reminding the viewer that choice also defines normal and normal, within the bounds of what is legal, is individually oriented.
In other words, it’s okay for a girl to want to be tied up!
Who We Were Before
In the final analysis, two themes connect Evolved with the original trilogy to reveal that Jacky St. James is always progressing as a filmmaker.
Her script points out that often a woman can best teach another woman the psychological aspects of sexuality, regardless of her preferences be they fetish or vanilla. Evolved is female-oriented and we see this with the extended conversations between Emma and Mariah and the emphasis on eye contact during the sex scenes mentioned previously.
Overall, Evolved is a further exploration of Emma’s closure on her past. The pain of losing Mr. Frederick haunts Emma when she tells Mariah it’s time to move on to a male dominant. Mariah reacts with an outburst that reflects what she believes happened to Emma.
“Are you going to pawn me off on someone else? Is this how this works?”
Confronting her personal sense of abandonment and loss of trust, Mariah disappears from the story without explanation.
Of course, irony grips the narrative at this point. This is the second time Emma feels forsaken, the first being the result of Mr. Frederick’s death. Her saving grace is that she is an evolving Emma, so to speak, who is well schooled in how to cope with the unexpected.
And then, the letter arrives.
It reveals that the chemistry between Emma and Mariah referenced in the first installment of this analysis has transcended misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Mr. Frederick as narrator helps us understand this major theme of Evolved when he says, “To survive we have to let go, acknowledging what no longer works for us, acknowledging that who we were before may not be the person we are today.”
William Frederick is the omnipresent voice inside our soul that urges, prods, and disciplines us at every turn while reminding us of our capacity to love.
So it comes as no surprise that with the narrative’s fade out, we hear “Mr. Frederick” whispered almost inaudibly.
Will he continue to dwell in Emma’s spirit for the next film?
* * *
Adult fans who appreciate the feature film sub-genre realize there are few writer/directors who develop original ideas. Relying on parodies where plot and characters are already in place or adopting an established story line from existing sources, such as superhero comics or popular mainstream films, is convenient. Just add the sex.
But with Jacky St. James the landscape is more provocative. She writes her own narratives and uses sex as dialogue so the viewer can better understand her characters in such a way that the sex scenes emerge as characters in and of themselves.
Next, Jacky coaches and guides performers through the acting experience looking for just the right take for every scene. Being trained in drama and having once sought roles in mainstream Hollywood, Jacky understands the details and rigor of directing and acting.
Lastly, of course, she is part of a talented team of creative cinematographers that gives every adult feature she directs the Hollywood touch.
This combination of factors makes a New Sensations/Jacky St. James film unique to the business and we should appreciate that while we can.