The Masseuse, or to be entirely accurate, ‘Jenna Jamson is The Masseuse’, is a high profile remake of Paul Thomas’ groundbreaking 1990 feature. It revolves around the relationship between Justin Sterling, a twenty-something virgin with a taste for porn and tying himself up, and Jameson, a sympathetic masseuse. The two transgress the boundaries of professional etiquette on their first meeting when Jameson, seemingly touched by her client’s naivety, agrees to give him a handjob. Sterling, who shows no interest in the obvious attentions of his co-worker, Wendy Divine, is smitten and, on his next visit, prefers to wait for Jameson rather than take up the option of another masseuse. This time the exchange goes even further, as she agrees to remove her top and perform fellatio. She even goes so far as to take his phone number and agreeing to visit his apartment, albeit for a price. Once there, she consents to being elaborately bound and ravished.
For their next encounter Jameson puts on an all girl S&M show with an unidentified female (Savanna Samson) but by now things are spiralling out of control. Sterling, irate at the duration between phone calls, finds her address and arrives unannounced. Horrified, she agrees to return to his apartment on the proviso that he leaves immediately. The relationship seems to have progressed further as they have penetrative sex for the first time but, on returning to the massage parlour, he hears that she has quit her job. He arrives at her home to find a ‘for rent’ sign. As he’s leaving, seemingly unbeknown to him, Jenna and Savanna, clearly a couple, return for their belongings. The closing shots find Sterling walking away from the house having witnessed their return while spying through the bushes.
As a film this is less than perfect but it remains an outstanding example of high-end, couples friendly, plot-driven porn. The acting is credible throughout and the development of the narrative is closer to that of a mainstream movie than most porn. There are extended sex scenes, notably the girl/girl between Jenna and Savanna, and a pointless coupling between Evan Stone and Wendy Divine, but the sex tends to feel more like a motivated set-piece than a market driven necessity; the film does, after all, revolve around an escalating sexual relationship.
Considerable credit should go to Paul Thomas (et al) for several reasons: Firstly, the film is directed with an admirable combination of imagination and restraint. It boasts some clever editing – used most notably to evoke the disorientation and trauma Sterling suffers when interacting with women – and some nice tracking shots. It also refrains, for the most part, from protracted genital close-ups. Secondly, the film dares to mix bondage and hardcore – extremely rare these days – on more than one occasion. Both Jameson and Samson are penetrated (by toy, penis and, in the case of the latter, strap-on) while thoroughly bound. These sequences are carefully staged, meticulously executed, and, whether you’re a fan of BDSM or not, the most memorable of the movie.
Again, it’s not perfect. The coupling of Stone and Divine, while it does serve some narrative purpose, is overlong and feels like a standard porno ‘number’. It also feels like a regression from the original, which had the audacity to limit it’s sexual action to two characters. Another problem is that the ending is somewhat unsatisfactory. The relationship between the two leads, the dynamic for the whole movie, isn’t really resolved. Sterling, a socially awkward love struck male, simply walks away from a woman he seems to be obsessed with: possible but probably not likely.