This evening we watched Liliana Cavani’s controversial 1974 film, The Night Porter. At the time, it courted controversy for several reasons. It dealt explicitly with sado-masochism, but within the still painful context of Nazi concentration camps, and it portrayed a group of former Nazi officers plotting the murders of any surviving witnesses to their atrocities so that they could go on planning for a new fascist resurgence. Nowadays, though Cavana’s courage must be admired (I don’t believe the critics who argued that she had deliberately and irresponsibly courted controversy), the themes the film addressed are no longer taboo and so the film can be judged a little more calmly. It is well directed and Dirk Bogarde (as the Nazi sadist) and Charlotte Rampling (as the masochistic former concentration camp inmate) turn in powerful and entirely believable performances. But, seeing it again, I think the film runs out of steam as the plot runs out of credibility. As she is a surviving witness, Bogarde’s Nazi cronies want Rampling dead. But Bogarde and Rampling have rekindled their weird relationship. So they hole up in a flat and starve before deciding to walk out to their deaths. I do not say that the audience are thinking ‘and about time too!’, but once the couple have reconsommated their relationship the film runs out of things to say. And if the intention is to portray growing madness in a sealed room, then the film comes a poor second to Polanski’s Repulsion – if that is what it sought to echo.