Wednesday, 20 May 2009

No. 133 : Whore





Arty filmmaker Ken Russell made this film is response to ‘Pretty Woman’ and it’s rather glamorous take on the world of prostitution. As you’d expect the film is pretty grim but there is a lot to like even if it does skirt the believability line somewhat.

Theresa Russell plays the lead, Liz, who is a career prostitute. The film opens with her turning tricks on the side of the road before she is chased off by her pimp whom she's trying to escape from. In a series of monologues Liz reveals her past and how she came to earn her living on her back. Through flashbacks we see her, not very convincingly, in her youth and getting married at a young age. After having a kid she walked out on her loser husband and after working as a waitress a chance encounter showed her where the real money could be earned.

As her character is fleshed out we also witness her present day trials from getting slapped about by the punters to trying to evade her murderous pimp. At the start of the film she befriends a street hustler played by Huggy Bear and as their paths cross throughout the film we realise that he may have an important part to play. As the day in Liz’s life ends we have to wonder if she’ll survive and whether she’ll have learned anything from the experience.

This whole film hangs on the lead performance and as much as I like Theresa Russell she doesn’t convince as a street walker. For a start she is too pretty and well made up. I don’t have much experience of such matters but she looks more like a Playboy model than someone selling blowjobs for $40 a pop. Her accent, which varies constantly, is annoying and goes from South Bronx to somewhere in the mid Atlantic.

It’s not a particularly sexy film but Theresa does do her best when the scene demands it. Some of it looks a bit too glamorous and the grim reality the director is striving for never really convinces. You do get to like the lead character however and her grim path to whoredom is well illustrated although some of the male characters are a bit too well worn. Yeah guys are a bunch of horny losers but you could give us a break at some point!

The film was based on a stage play and this is apparent when the actors talk to us directly. This does deny the film of any sense of reality but it does allow a lot more information and background than you’d otherwise get. Although pretty grim throughout there are lighter moments and a few good laughs as the kinky clientele get their wishes for a price.

The ‘hooker with a heart’ is a tired cliché and Liz seems a bit too goody goody for the streets despite her tough demeanour. She tells us she doesn’t do groups, golden showers, men in vans, up the bum, anything dirty or anything without a rubber - surprised if she makes minimum wages with that list of no go areas!

I enjoyed the film which despite not offering too many insights into the red light world was interesting and varied enough to keep my interest

Best Bit : Dining out in a classy restaurant
‘W’ Rating : 15/23

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