Woman in Flames (1983): German Tale of Friendship between Prostitute and Gigolo

Robert van Ackeren directed A Woman in Flames, a German drama, starring Gudrun Landgrebe and Mathieu Carrière.

The film served as West German’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, but was not nominated.

An upper class housewife named Eva (Gudrun Landgrebe) gets frustrated with her domestic life and leaves her arrogant husband. She is drawn to the idea of becoming a call girl. With the help of a prostitute, Yvonne, Eva learns the necessary skills for meeting and pleasing clients.

Later on, she falls in love with Chris, a male who turns out to be a gigolo, and they move into his penthouse, which is large enough for both of them to offer services separately.

Slowly Eva enters the world of sado-masochism–being a dominatrix gives her control and pleasure.  In one brutal scene, she crushes a client’s hands by slowly walking over him with her stiletto-heeled boots.

Overcome with jealousy, Chris wants to know how she is making so much money. When she tells him that the more she hurts the men, the more money she gets, he gets upset.

The scenes in the upstairs room get more intense. One day, Chris observes Eva dominating a man tied to a chair.

He tries to whisk her away from s/m, buying her furs, and even talking about marriage. For her part, she relates her dream about hitting Chris, who in the dream likes it.

In panic, Chris invests their money in a restaurant, an enterprise that doesn’t interest her. When she tries to walk out on him, he gets angry, hits her and lights her on fire after pouring alcohol on her.

In the last scene, Eva is seen unscathed and happy with her friends.