review for Conspirators of Pleasure on AllMovie

Conspirators of Pleasure (1996)
by Jonathan Crow review

Any film that cites Sigmund Freud, Max Ernst, Luis Bunuel, and the Marquis de Sade as cardinal influences clearly is not standard mall movie fare. In Conspirators of Pleasure, Jan Svankmajer has created a film that is thoroughly surreal in the truest sense of the term. Like Un Chien Andalou, this film brilliantly takes a basic human instinct -- sexuality -- and renders it not only very strange but also very funny. Scenes of a newswoman responding sexually to toe-sucking carp or of a policeman luxuriating in a tactile smorgasbord of nails, rubber, and fur are not easily forgotten. Yet this film is not simply an exploration in Freudian repression and sublimation; Svankmajer's characters regard each other with knowing glances, as if recognizing the others as members of some bizarre cabal. Set in a former Eastern Bloc nation with repressive laws and prudish views on sex, their activities are given a political charge, lending their obsessions an additional subversive weight. Though definitely not a film for everyone, Conspirators of Pleasure is a masterful romp through the human subconscious and a brilliant satire on human nature.