I found Evelyn terribly irritating and wanted Cynthia to leave her in the box too.
('Next time, say it with more conviction.' Ugh! Unbelievable.)
But then we were chatting about it after the cinema and now I think maybe seeing Evelyn as a manipulative bratty monster is too simplistic.
As some one who has experienced (non-consensual) manipulative bratty monsters, I suppose I erred on the side of thinking Evelyn was responsible for her own behaviour and quite repellent.
Most of all the film made me think about what submission is, how often there is a point where people run up against their own egos: do they really want to surrender to another's will? or is it more that they want to do what they want to do, but have the responsibility and work taken out of it and their needs catered to in the guise of being dominated.
My friend made the point that to a certain extent tops do take some steer from their partner.
To me, Cynthia didn't seem to be into it at all, but only to be doing it because she loved Evelyn and wanted to make her happy.
So the steer she'd be getting from her partner would be greater, I guess?
I think I get what you are saying here, yes there is often a large degree of negotiation. Some people are TOTALLY OK with the idea of topping from the bottom, or service topping, or any combination there of. If that's what people are into and what makes them happy all well and good. Some people are into resistance and brattiness as a style (completely different from your use of the word bratty). Others have strict protocols and a high degree of formality: again this is something both people have agreed to because it's something they enjoy and want to do together. (not listing these styles as exhaustive, mutually exclusive, or any one better than the other, just trying to show there are a million ways.)
I don't think that's what the film portrayed. As you say Cynthia didn't seem to be into it at all. To me she seemed stressed and unhappy, going through the motions. To me she seemed to be suffering. I didn't see any element of consensual power exchange
Cynthia may have been playing the role of the dominant but she wasn't getting any of the elevation that goes with that, Evelyn was the one calling the shots and controlling the action.
This seemed to be the crux of the film, to pick apart the common perception of D/s power dynamics, and to litterally turn on it's head the common assumption that the person bottoming is always the vulnerable one, most open to exploitation. This is an idea so often repeated in pop culture that there is an ingrained acceptance and blurring between the roles people play and ideas of who they are as people. IE: the awful stereotypes that a dominant must really be striding about all of the time IRL ordering people about or that a submissive must be a shy, cowering type.
In my experience not only are the stereotypes unhelpful, indeed harmful but they gloss over how complex relationships can be. How fluidly dynamics can move and how D/s can be something which feels quite natural and doesn't at all rob either person of agency. The best way I have ever heard this put is 'equal and yet choosing not to be equal' in the context of the relationship. The paradox of relating to another as absolutely on an even footing, and that it is from this point that power exchange can take place.
There has been so much furor over '50 shades of Grey', then I noticed a thread/post on FL today which put forward the idea that Evelyns behaviour towards Cynthia was non-consensual and therefore abusive. Personally I think abuse is a word flung around a a little too easily but that did give me pause for thought.