Back when I reviewed Pauline Reage's novel The Story of O, I mentioned that there have been three film versions made of this controversial novel. The most faithful, most paradoxical, and longest of these is The Story of O: The Series.

O (Claudia Cepeda) is a young, vivacious photographer who falls in love with Rene (Nelson Freitas). While their relationship seems like a storybook romance at first, everything changes when he sends her to a place called Roissy, where women are subjected to intense physical and psychological s&m training to make them the perfect slaves. After her training Rene passes O on to Sir Stephen (Paulo Reis) as her new master, Rene wants O to seduce the beautiful model Jacqueline (Gabriella Alves) , and Jacqueline's young sister Natalie (Marcela Altberg) falls in love with O.

The Story of O: The Series follows its source novel extremely closely. While the other adaptions took quite a few liberties with the story -- from removing controversial elements to changing the ending -- this series is as close a version as one could find. Claudia Cepeda's voiceover quotes from the novel often, and the action pulls no punches.

In terms of the eroticism and the prurient, The Story of O: The Series is almost contradictory. There sex is intense and quite often disturbing, but also less revealing than most adult films. (It's an unfortunate parallel of the movie's treatment of women that there's no full male nudity but plenty of women fully naked.) The movie's mostly about sex, yet the sex scenes take up 5-10 minutes of each hour-long episode. And like the novel, the movie strives for transcendence through absolute submission.

The production and casting are as solid as any mainstream series. Claudia Cepeda is terrific as O, a woman who takes a terrifying journey only to find that's what she was after the whole time. The rest of the cast is also good (and, as an aside, Gabriella Alves' voice reminds me a lot of Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation). The cinematography is quite enjoyable, the costuming is excellent (from the "specialized" attire at Roissy to the light, breezy clothing these beautiful, affluent people wear all the time), and seeing the novel acted out adds some humanity that the novel often abstracted.

The Story of O: The Series is not for the easily offended or faint of heart (or impatient: It's 10 hours long in total), but if you enjoyed the novel or are intrigued by its premise, this is one series that's definitely worth checking out.

Overall grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

No comments: