When this came out there was outcry, naturally; you've got an ex-SS officer in hiding and a concentration camp victim stumbling upon him. Oh yes, and there's a violent S&M relationship between them. That's your money shot, baby. How could it get anymore crass, right? Not quite.
Set in 50's Vienna (shot in mute, subdued and dank colours), Max is undercover as a night porter in a hotel when Lucia, his captive, turns up with her other half for a stay. They set eyes on each other and fall back into their old relationship. The 'sex scenes' are not quite sex orientated, it's all about the power struggle, which is depicted in unflinching realism. The glass shards in the feet moment is eye watering, to say the least.
Dirk Bogarde is utterly captivating, strong and wormily weak simutaneously as he grapples with the reappearance of Lucia and the fact that he is being interrogated by a group of his fellow SS officers with regards to keeping a lid on their actions and pasts, but indulging in some creepy confessions to one another as a purging tool.
Night Porter is a confusing film. The end comes quickly and suddenly but leaves some very opened ended plot lines. It's political and dark, sometimes beautiful but ultimately sad. Forget the shock tactics of using Nazis, this is really about the complexity and decay of human emotion, and the cruelty of mankind when there is the scent of power in the air.