Image Source: Everett Collection
In “Sanctuary,” Margaret Qualley plays a dominatrix and Christopher Abbott stars as her client — though their relationship proves to be more than just a transactional one. In the movie, which hit select theaters on May 19, Qualley and Abbott’s true personas slowly emerge, revealing complex characters with an even more complicated relationship.
Abbott’s character, Hal, is an insecure newly minted CEO whose story seems plucked right out of an episode of “Succession.” His father, the founder of a profitable hotel company, has recently died, leaving Hal to take on the massive responsibility his domineering parent left him. But Hal is deeply insecure, though he finds some solace in his meetings with Qualley’s character Rebecca, who provides him with some of the structure and control he seems to crave.
Rebecca, meanwhile, remains more of an enigma, rarely letting down her walls. But in the above exclusive clip shared with POPSUGAR, Hal searches for the source of her confidence as she offers a tiny fragment of information about her past. “The first time that I went to the dentist, I was 19 years old,” she says. “He took one look inside of my mouth, and do you know what he said? He said, ‘Perfect.’ He said, ‘A+.’ I did that, me, because nobody else gave a flying f*ck. That is who I am.”
With those few lines, Rebecca paints a picture of an early life that made her feel invisible, but one she was able to conquer with the sheer force of her will.
As Rebecca and Hal’s relationship continues to unfurl over the course of the film, it becomes clear that their psyches are a lot more intertwined than they seem. BDSM is wildly misunderstood, and even as films like “Fifty Shades of Grey” have made it more popular, the nuances and deeply personal and emotional reasons people choose to engage in it are often obscured. In “Sanctuary,” however, Qualley and Abbott’s layered performances shine a light on why, exactly, their dynamic works so well — and unsurprisingly, it’s not really about the sex at all.
Watch Qualley and Abbott peel back each others’ walls in the clip above.