Sunday, 24 February 2008

GFF Review: Irina Palm-by Carmody Wilson

Director: Sam Garbarski
Running Time: 103 minutes
Certificate: 15

Marianne Faithfulli s a better actor than singer. That said, she doesn’t appear to give very good handjobs. And that is what Ms Faithfull spends the majority of her time doing in the film, greasing up and jerking off until she can afford to pay for her grandson’s medical treatment. Faitfhull’s performance as Maggie is very slow and deliberate, her dilemma palpably uncomfortable as she contemplates the get-rich- quick route she has chosen to help her family get to Australia. Miki Manojlovic appears alongside as not-quite sleazy club owner Miki, who provides Maggie with friendship as well as filthy lucre, for her trouble.

A sad, troubling, but strangely light- textured film, Irina Palm makes giving hand jobs for money seem a slight headache, rather than a gruesome alternative to working in McDonald’s. Faithfull’s turn as Maggie exhibits a rare dowdiness for the performer, with shot after shot of Maggie shown stumpily tramping down to Soho in her aubergine coat and grandmother’s handbag. It’s an unaffected film, (save for the awful, spitting performance of Kevin Bishop as Maggie’s son-why wasn’t he the one giving handjobs?) with gray, listless London serving as the antidote to the pulsing, gyrating environment of the club. Maggie’s old life disintegrates as she accepts and adapts to her new life, with her friend and coworker at the club warning her stridently to “keep them separate.” Maggie’s workmanlike approach to her job leads to a new confidence, and she oddly, gets a sort of redemption from her little enterprise, in a new relationship with her daughter-in-law, the shedding of negative friends, and, presumably new skills that would make her highly desirable on the singles dating market. Still, they look like godawful handjobs.

Irina Palm isn’t some kind of empowering-through-sex film, though it isn’t a down-and-outer either. There’s nothing really tawdry here. What it is is a quiet portrait of hard deeds done in hard times by a woman who didn’t know she had it in her.

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