Friday, 2 October 2015

Whore

Whore; drama, USA, 1991; D: Ken Russell, S: Theresa Russell, Benjamin Mouton, Antonio Fargas

Liz is an L.A. prostitute who works on the streets, though she has seen better days. She talks about her strangest encounters: once she naively entered a van and was gang rapped by a couple of thugs who left her on the street; one of her customers was an older man who was aroused when she spanked him; another client was aroused just by licking her shoe; once she witnessed a prostitute getting stabbed, and managed to save her from bleeding out... All the time she is under pressure by her violent pimp, Blake, who constantly thinks she is hiding money from him. The only thing that is still keeping her going is her child. One night, after having sex in a car, the client dies from a stroke, and Blake shows up to rob him and harasses her, but she is saved by a homeless man.

It seems that eccentric director Ken Russell saw "Pretty Woman" and decided to make "Whore" as an answer to that film - but even though his story is much darker, "Pretty Woman" is still a better film. It just goes to show that being pessimistic or optimistic, upbeat or downbeat has little to do with a quality of a certain film. While "Pretty Woman" went overboard with the sugarcoating, Russell exaggerated in the opposite, the darkcoating, turning the film into such a dirty, vile and unglamourous tale about prostitution that it itself became unrealistic. Where is the realism in such scenes where Liz's husband would walk into their home, stop just over the table and vomit precisely over her lunch; a guy touring in a car with his best friend in the back (!) in search for a prostitute (as if men would prefer a threesome with two men, instead of two women) or a client masturbating while lying on bed, fully dressed in his best suit and a tie (!), as if ejaculating does not leave any stains when it falls all over someones clothes? In trying to only unglamourize the "oldest profession in the world", Russell lost track of some basic things, clumsily constructing a dark fantasy instead of trying to give a fair, unbiased portrait. A lot of issues presented here stand, yet the storyline is stilted, and the only truly good moments are the Godardian 'breaking-of-the-fourth-wall', where Liz looks directly into the camera and addresses the audience about her problems. For all of its flaws, "Pretty Woman" at least had some charm and pathos. It seems Russell removed them altogether here, thinking they would only bother him in the major theme.

Grade;+

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