‘Love and Leashes’ movie review: When public relations go private

Lee Jun-young and Seohyun share an unconventional romance in this Netflix K-drama that pushes, but does not disrespect, boundaries in the bedroom

Updated - February 21, 2022 05:28 pm IST

Published - February 19, 2022 04:25 pm IST

A still from the 2022 Korean film ‘Love and Leashes’ (L to R) Lee Jun-young as Jung Ji-hoo, Seo Hyun as Jung Ji-woo .

A still from the 2022 Korean film ‘Love and Leashes’ (L to R) Lee Jun-young as Jung Ji-hoo, Seo Hyun as Jung Ji-woo . | Photo Credit: Netflix

If you haven’t watched Love and Leashes on Netflix yet, now may be the time to give it a go. The Korean movie – directed by Park Hyun-jin, is an adaptation of the webcomic Moral Sense by Gyeowool. Spoiler alert: it isn’t a raunchy romantic movie filled with crazy love-making scenes. The movie revolves around a man’s secret fetish for BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism).

Jung Ji-woo (Seohyun) and Jung Ji-hoo (Lee Jun-Young) are colleagues at a public relations firm. Ji-woo develops feelings for her co-worker, but does not express her feelings until things take an unexpected turn, when – due to their similar names – she receives a package intended for Ji-hoo. As the package has a dog leash, Ji-hoo explains to her about his S&M (submission and masochism) inklings and that he likes playing a submissive role. Surprised that Ji-woo does not pass any judgment about his fetish, Ji-hoo is surprised he asks if she would become his dominant or ‘master’, but without the involvement of sex. She should, instead order him around during their role-play. The two agree on a three-month relationship, by contract.

‘Love And Leashes’ (2022)
Cast: Lee Jun-Young, Seohyun, Lee El, Kim Han-na
Director: Park Hyeon-jin
Run time: 118 mins

Ji-woo and Ji-hoo show great on-screen coordination when it comes to expressing and following through on not just their desires, but also their curiosities. 

Though Love and Leashes aims to be a romantic comedy, it lacks light moments and fails to induce any laugh-out-loud comedy. However, like other K-dramas, it admirably discusses choice, the right to make a choice, as well as consent and preference.

Intimacy through dialogue

For example, there is a scene where a frustrated Ji-Woo cries as he recalls how his ex-girlfriend could not understand his preferences and broke up with him, and wonders if he should have discussed it with her.

In another scene, Ji-woo’s friend, Hye-mi (Lee El), who is also into BDSM, goes out on a blind date with a man who construes BDSM as consent for sexual abuse. After being rescued by Ji-Woo and Ji-hoo, she tells her date, “Just because I am a pervert, you have no right to mistreat me.” She adds that she did not take a picture of the guy to expose him, even though he mistreated her; Hye-mi doesn’t want to tarnish his image as going out with him was her choice.

In the age oftitles such as Sex/Life, Bridgerton and Love Stories, Love and Leashes certainly forays into adult territory, but without much raunchiness, except for the role-playing props, attires and a couple of S&M scenes. However, it is notable for some mature conversations through the characters’ interactions and self-exploration. 

Love and Leashes is currently streaming on Netflix

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