Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This documentary profiles poet/performance artist Bob Flanagan, who was born with cystic fibrosis. Flanagan explains, with engaging humor, how his obsession with controlled, self-inflicted pain has helped him to deal with his uncontrollable suffering. His philosophy forces one to look at sado-masochism with fresh eyes. The film includes explicit scenes of genital self-mutilation.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 23, 2003

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Critic Reviews for Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (8)

This bold, intense, and uncompromising expose of S&M takes audiences to places thay have not been before; in moments, it's tough to watch but quite rewarding at the end.

Full Review… | February 7, 2007
Top Critic

Flanagan and Rose prove to be an exceptionally creative and intelligent couple who were able to turn their obsessions into art, albeit of a highly specialized kind and involving at times an overwhelmingly brutal exhibitionism.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Does a remarkable thing in presenting extreme, sometimes revolting material and simultaneously making us like and admire Flanagan.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

One of the most agonizing films I have ever seen.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | November 7, 1997
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

An extremely interesting artist who provides a deep glimpse into the nature of pain. He demonstrates, mostly with his body, the clear, yet often confounding, large gap between unwanted pain and consensual pain. If you've ever been intrigued, excited, or outright confused by masochism, let Bob give you a colorful education on the matter.

Also worth noting is how impeccable director Kirby Dick is when it comes to picking subjects for his documentaries. This was his first international hit, and it is quite clear why it was so hailed, especially in the era before the internet where self-documented extreme masochistic acts were not a google search away or conveniently categorized on BMEzine..

_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

Insightful documentary on Bob Flanagan who fought cystic fribrosis by becoming a masochist. Not just any old masochist. No, he became a super masochist; doing to his body what few others had the desire to do, let alone the nerve.

Introduced to most from NIN's "Happiness In Slavery" video, he's not just a pervert or a weirdo, but a person who has spent everyday facing his mortality and found a way to survive and to outlast an illness that should have killed him in his childhood.

El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer


[font=Century Gothic]"Sick" is a documentary that starts out with Bob Flanagan, performance artist, reading his own obituary. Flanagan suffered from cystic fibrosis since he was a child and was not given long to live. But he beat the odds, by using masochism as a coping mechanism(coupled with a healthy sense of humor) and eventually became involved in a submissive, loving, and long-term relationship with his partner, Sheree Rose.(As a 17 year-old cystic fibrosis survivor, Sara, who gets to meet Flanagan through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, puts it, masochism is being able to have some control over your body.) [/font]

[font=Century Gothic]This is not an easy movie to watch, however, as it is extremely graphic in its depictions of Flanagan's illness and sexuality. At the same time, the documentary uses these images to attack taboos concerning sickness, sadomasochism and death. [/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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