USE ME (Julian Shaw, 2019)
Sunday, June 2, Wythe Hotel, 80 Wythe Ave. at North Eleventh St., 7:00
Monday, June 3, Windmill Studios, 300 Kingsland Ave., 8:30
Festival runs May 31 - June 9
Fiction and reality collide in kinky ways in Julian Shaw’s thriller Use Me, making its world premiere at the twenty-second annual Brooklyn Film Festival. New Zealand-born director Shaw initially set out to make a documentary about Ceara Lynch, a professional humiliatrix who welcomes people to her website by proclaiming, “Here you will find a wide array of fetish and femdom POV videos specially designed to exacerbate your inexplicable urge to have a pretty girl ruin your life.” Ultimately, he decided to create a fictionalized tale in which it is often difficult to tell what is real and what is not. Lynch makes her living by humiliating men, who pay for the privilege; the film’s original title was Ruin Me. Shaw and Lynch, and various other characters, play themselves as he delves into her salacious business of sexual obsession. She has a clear set of guidelines, but when they breach a few key ground rules, Shaw finds himself trapped in a dangerous nightmare involving Lynch, her client Luke Adore (Joseph Reitman), and her protégée Princess Cassie (Jazlyn Yoder).
Shaw (Darling! The Pieter-Dirk Uys Story, Cup of Dreams) keeps the viewer off balance all the way, both through the use of shaky handheld cameras and his appropriately uncomfortable performance; he has noted in interviews that even he sometimes didn’t realize what scenes were completely made up and what was more real. The twists pile up, leading to a surprising conclusion as Shaw examines various forms of addiction, including the director’s need to film everything; he never turns the camera off, no matter what commitments he’s made to himself or others. Use Me is screening June 2 at 7:00 at the Wythe Hotel and June 3 at 8:30 at Windmill Studios, followed by Q&As with Shaw and others. The Brooklyn Film Festival continues through June 9 with such other works as Dustin Feneley’s Stray, Kristian Gianfreda’s Only Good Things, and Zhang Zhonghua’s The Home in the Tree.