‘Floss’: When Hesitation Becomes A Kick In The Teeth

Floss

In love, secrets that are not always easy to communicate can be a bane for love. It’s not without a solution, but it can be a struggle, and that’s pretty much what ‘Floss’ is about. 

‘Floss’ is a 2019 Chinese short film directed by queer filmmaker Fan Popo. It tells the story of two lovers, Ting and Mark, who live in Beijing. The official synopsis tells that Mark loves Ting dearly, but Ting “finds it difficult to commit to the relationship as there is a secret that is difficult to share: he has a fetish for Mark’s teeth.” As Mark becomes increasingly active and vocal in expressing his affection, Ting gets more confused as he struggles to communicate his feelings.

Ting wants to speak out, but can he? Read on to find out.

 

WARNING: Spoilers ahead. Also, mentions of sex, kinks, and implied infidelity.

‘Floss’ introduces us early to the central theme of the film as it begins with shots of Mark’s teeth and mouth. The couple are on a date, and Ting can’t seem to focus because he keeps on looking at Mark’s teeth as he chews his food. When Mark excuses himself for a while, Ting leans on the table and looks at the used toothpick, only stopping himself when Mark comes back. Mark teases him and suggests that they have sex back in his place, but Ting refuses, saying he’s rather tired.

The scene shifts to Mark’s apartment where they are watching a movie, Mark sleeping on Ting’s shoulder. After making sure that Mark’s sound asleep, he stands up for a bathroom break. But he gets distracted when he sees a string of used floss in the trash bin. He sniffs it and begins to touch himself. His reflection in the mirror, however, shows himself using the same floss. Whether he manages to finish or not is unclear, but Mark wakes up and calls for Ting who appears by the main door, his jacket in one hand. Mark tells him that Ting can stay the night in his place, but Ting refuses because his dog is waiting for him. He gives Mark a short kiss before leaving.

Ting’s frustration, however, gets worse by the day. When he asks Mark for floss, his boyfriend hands him a bag of toothpicks. He says he specifically asked for floss, but Mark insists that they’re just the same. It annoys him, and he walks away, Mark following him in confusion.

 

The couple have sex in Ting’s apartment, but whenever Mark tries for a kiss, Ting shifts and avoids all of his boyfriend’s attempts. After they finish and clean up, Mark asks why Ting won’t kiss him, but he doesn’t let him answer. Instead, he blames it on his breath, so he quickly leaves the bed to wash his mouth. When he returns, he asks Ting what is wrong, but Ting remains silent. They sleep with their backs turned on each other. Ting dreams of himself, immobile, his body tied in ropes of floss. (A/N: Intense flash warning here!) He opens his eyes, but he still can’t move. Soon, he wakes up wide-eyed, sunshine on his face, his dog curiously looking at him. He checks on Mark who is still fast asleep. He turns around and sees a string of floss on the floor.

The next scene shifts to Ting visiting his dentist. As the scaler hits his teeth, he can’t help but get turned on and he actually begins to moan. His dentist asks him about him and Mark in what initially appears as a casual conversation, but he leans closer and mentions Ting’s sexual whimpers while he gets his teeth cleaned. The dentist calls him a “slut” before Ting gropes him by the crotch.

Apparently, on that same day, it is Ting’s birthday, and they’re having a dinner date for it with his boyfriend. Mark takes out a roasted chicken, still trussed. It appears to have reminded Ting of his tied-up body in his recent dream. He distracts himself when Mark shows him the gift he bought. Mark then pulls up a bottle of wine, and Ting promptly declines, but they end up drinking anyway. It isn’t long before Ting gets pretty buzzed.

As Mark continues to eat, Ting leans closer and signals him to feed him. Mark complies, but Ting sucks on Mark’s fingers, arousing them both. Immediately turned on, Mark stands up, unbuckles his pants, and pulls Ting to suck him — which he does, kneeling right away. But as their oral sex gets a little too aggressive, Ting quickly pushes Mark away and he drops to the floor. 

Mark quickly apologizes. Ting, confused and annoyed, stays silent. And then the film ends.

 

If there is one thing most viewers say after watching ‘Floss’, it is almost always, “What did I just watch?” It is not surprising. ‘Floss’ leaves more questions than answers — why can’t Ting tell his fetish? Why is he extremely bothered? Is Ting cheating on Mark with the dentist? Has Mark tried to engage Ting in a conversation about what bothers him? But the confusion the film brings may be intentional. To begin with, ‘Floss’ is told from Ting’s perspective. Perhaps, it’s an attempt to bring us to what Ting feels towards his boyfriend, his sexual expression, and the overall frustration that has pretty much engulfed him and his relationship with Mark. As director Fan Popo said in his statement, ‘Floss’ “doesn’t provide a straightforward answer, but it raises these questions and creates feelings that will invite deep reflection.”

 

Watch ‘Floss’ (if you dare) on GagaOOLala

 

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