The actors at the centre of the new Australian S&M movie speak to us ahead of its premiere at MIFF 2014.
14 Aug 2014 - 3:42 PM  UPDATED 19 Mar 2020 - 12:35 PM

Australian movie My Mistress is a provocative love story about two lost souls that form an unconventional relationship which embraces the world of S&M. Written by Gerard Lee (Top of the Lake), and shot on location in Currumbin, Queensland by Shine cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson, the project marks the directorial feature debut of Stephen Lance, an award-winning music video and commercials filmmaker.

Rising AFI-winning actor Harrison Gilbertson (Beneath Hill 60) stars in the lead as the vulnerable teen Charlie, who begins a strangely innocent affair with middle-aged S&M mistress Maggie, played by 49-year-old French actress Emmanuelle Béart (A Heart in Winter, 8 Women).

“Charlie was a real challenge and a step up from what I’ve done before,” says Gilberton. “In a lot of the roles I’ve played I’m usually two steps ahead or two steps behind, which I can get into pretty easily.”

If the other challenge was holding his own opposite Béart, Harrison appears to have taken it in his stride. “She’s an amazing actress and has something about her that’s different and charismatic, but I believe it’s professional to treat [others] professionally. If you act like it’s going to faze you, then it will.” 

What would attract Béart, who hasn’t acted in any English-language movies since 1996's Mission: Impossible, to journey across the world for such a low budget production? “It was the story, and for me, who’s going to do it and why they dared to do it,” explains Béart. “From my perspective, she’s a great woman who does what she can. What is very interesting in this story is the couple, the two leftovers: Charlie and Maggie. They’ve both lost something in their lives and when they cross each other’s way something goes ‘boom’.”

The actress is also full of praise for her first time director. “He’s tough, but for me that’s a good sign,” she says. “As it’s low budget, there’s no time but Stephen knows exactly what he wants and I do trust him. For an actor, it’s like running, and if you don’t have someone there you will fall.”

Naturally, Béart researched a real mistress in Paris for preparation. “It was fascinating, she says. “Meeting a woman like that was the first big shock I had. She was smart and interesting and from a totally different world.”

My Mistress will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on 14th August and will be distributed by Transmission Films locally, with international sales being handled by LevelK. Watch the trailer for the film below:


Watch 'My Mistress'

Saturday 28 March, 9:35pm on SBS World Movies (now streaming at SBS On Demand)

Australia, 2014
Genre: Drama, Romance
Language: English
Director: Stephen Lance
Starring: Emmanuelle Béart, Harrison Gilbertson
What's it about?
When a tragic family event tumbles Charlie (Gilbertson) into a world of pain, he tries to escape. Desperate and alone, he meets Maggie (Beart), the mysterious woman who lives down the street. She's a professional, and she specialises in pain - giving it, exploring it, and sharing it, all for money. Charlie insinuates his way into her life and despite herself Maggie can't stop from going along with his wishes.

Stephen Lance on the masters who influenced My Mistress