Marco (Mario Casas) has everything that others can only dream of. He looks good, runs a successful company, has an exciting life. And yet, he is not really happy. Again and again he goes to a club to indulge in anonymous and erotic bondage games, while at the same time he is in therapy to get his emotional life under control. In his company there is increasing tension with co-founder Diego (Jon Arias) and his wife Bárbara (Bruna Cusí), especially when Eva (Silvia Alonso) joins the team. The relationship with his younger, mentally retarded brother José (Óscar Casas) is not easy. And then there is his mother Laura (Lola Dueñas), who abandoned them when they were still children …
Attractive people who expose themselves and play various bondage and dominance games are becoming increasingly popular in films. The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was a great success at the box office, and the rape fantasies in 365 Days brought Netflix many viewers, despite or perhaps because of the controversy. Now the next production, Instinto, is coming up, which wants to make you feel a certain tingling sensation with naked skin and secretly played out desires. There are some sex scenes in the Spanish series, just at the beginning. And yet these can hardly be compared with the examples above. It is not only better, but also much more complex.
One series, several directions
In fact, they didn’t do themselves a great favor by trying to sell Instinto as an erotic thriller. Of course there are the erotic moments. In addition, there are intrigues and tensions, as well as deeply hidden secrets, which are always a good prerequisite for a thriller. But these aspects are always broken by others, especially the plot line around the mentally retarded José. Of course, this has little to do with eroticism, one would hardly want to call it a thriller – the looming legal dispute between Marco and Laura is too weak for that, there are no real showdowns.
But this does not mean that this part of the story is boring. In contrast to the other passages that are more aimed at a chic surface, this one may be about real feelings. Marco, who on the one hand is an unscrupulous businessman with an aversion for closeness, takes care of his brother, or at least tries to, thus becoming a more complex character than many others who are flitting across the screen here. This also works well because of the cast: Mario Casas, who became famous with teenage romances such as Three Meters Above the Sky and is now primarily seen in darker works – most recently, for example, Your Home Belongs to Me – and Óscar Casas are brothers in real life as well, which gives the interplay a more intimate touch, even if the plot tends to repeat itself.
The story behind the sex fetish
The erotic part is the least important in history, which is why anonymous sex in particular is dropped quite quickly. Nevertheless: Unlike the examples above, the scenes in Instinto are not an end in themselves, but are linked to the other events in terms of content. Indeed, one of the questions raised is where Marco gets his S/M fantasies from. These are also answered, but this gives only limited reason to be happy. The resolution is relatively fast, and on top of that, it is disturbing and raises further questions, with which the viewer is left alone. One simply wanted to shock the audience a bit cheaply, instead of getting involved in real psychological discussions.
The combination of the three strands of the plot – erotic scenes, work intrigue, family drama – doesn’t quite work out, and is likely to irritate considerable parts of the audience. Those who are looking for a tingling sensation, perhaps with a sense of suspense, will not necessarily be able to relate to the dialogue-laden scenes around José, which deal with the difficulty of dealing with mentally retarded relatives. If, on the other hand, you want to see sensitive narrative moments about two brothers, about responsibility and true feelings, the bondage sequences and rough affairs could throw you off your game. But it’s an interesting mixture, on the one hand authentic, on the other hand overdrawn, as you really don’t get to see it every day.