The heir to a hotel empire (Christopher Abbott) and the dominatrix who has primed him for success (Margaret Qualley) battle it out in a hotel room as he tries to end their relationship.
As Hal Porterfield (Christopher Abbott) prepares to take over his late father’s hotel empire, he arranges one last session with Rebecca (Margaret Qualley), a ravishing and skilled dominatrix who has proved capable of carrying out his fantasies to a T. Over the course of their relationship, she has transformed him from a mewling repressive to someone that actually has the confidence to ask for what he wants — and now, he wants to show her the door.
Rebecca knows she deserves more than a retirement gift, though, and soon the two are locked in a battle of wits and wills, confined to a claustrophobic hotel room, hashing out what quickly starts to feel like delirious divorce proceedings. Recalling the facetious approach of Succession, their petty clash puts money and reputation on the line. They’re stunned by each other for the duration of their confrontation, but it’s the audience that may leave more surprised and fascinated by their final negotiation and the strange calculus of their relationship.
With classism, capitalism, and gendered merit on the mind, director Zachary Wigon deftly balances a seesawing power dynamic and demonstrates immense dexterity in finding the transitions between the psychosexual and the oddly endearing.
Featuring spectacular performances from both actors, Sanctuary becomes a blistering back and forth, where a man of the American aristocracy is finally confronted by the woman who is ready to collect her share.
Content advisory: sexual content involving sadomasochism, graphic sexual language