Whore (1991)

Whore (1991)

Released: 1991
Genre: Drama, Genre
Director: Ken Russell
Starring: Antonio Fargas, Benjamin Mouton, Theresa Russell, ,
Run time: 85 min
IMDb: 5.6/10
Country: USA
Views: 56639

Synopsis

Storyline:
The prostitute Liz works on the streets of Los Angeles. She recalls her life in flashback, when she marries an alcoholic man. She leaves him with their son. Then she works as waitress in a diner until the day a man introduces her to prostitution. Later she is raped by at least five men and the pimp Blake “protects” her. Liz tries to escape from Blake and befriends the prostitute Katie; however Blake chases her. On the streets, she befriends the homeless Rasta (Antonio Fargas) that helps her when she needs.
Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
User Reviews: Although he continued to work profusely in the medium which gave him his start, this was the last proper theatrical film for Ken Russell until 2002’s semi-amateurish THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, did become his feature-length swan song for the silver screen); given its theatrical origins as a British play called "Bondage" – written by a former taxi driver and basing it on stories he was told by his own streetwalking customers! – it is not as visually stylized as the movies the director is most renowned – or vilified – for but he still opens it out somewhat by shooting it on location in Los Angeles Appropriately enough, it stars American actress Theresa Russell (no relation to the director) who, at the time of shooting, was married to Ken’s chief rival for the title of the most visionary British film-maker of his era, Nicolas Roeg who, like Ken, had a penchant for turning pop idols into tentative and temporary film stars!

The seedy world of pimps, prostitutes and "tricks" is right up Ken’s alley and one he had already visited more effectively 7 years previously in one of his most notorious films, CRIMES OF PASSION; tellingly, this more realistic treatment went by almost unnoticed. In fact, Theresa tells her story in flashback and often resorts to interacting with the audience (as it were) by directly speaking to the camera in lengthy monologues. Among the episodes in her past life that are depicted is a marriage to a boozing hunk (hilariously, he comes home one day, when she is almost at the end of her pregnancy and, despite her having diligently prepared his meal, he proceeds to puke into his salad bowl!); earlier on, the first ‘client’ she meets is a puking tramp lying on the pavement and then a colored, perennially barefooted street-performing masochist (played by Antonio Fargas from TV’s STARSKY AND HUTCH) who becomes a recurring presence throughout the film…as does an Indian bike-rider who insists Theresa foregoes the ‘rubber’ if she agrees to take him on as a customer (which, naturally, doom his prospects)!

After much abuse suffered from plying her trade on the streets – getting gangbanged in a van and thanklessly dumped on the pavement, after which she is cared for by a kindly Jack Nance – she is ‘tricked’ {sic} (through the staging of a rescue from a would-be attempted rape inside a car) into employing a seemingly classy but sadistic thug as her pimp (Benjamin Mouton); he takes her out to an elegant dinner (served by an uncredited – and sarcastic – Ken Russell himself!) but, obviously, she is no ‘fair lady’ and proceeds to make an ass of him in front of the other diners. He soon pays her back with dividends by brutishly interrupting the temporary idyll with a friendly dyke into which she had eventually escaped. Like Kathleen Turner’s character in CRIMES OF PASSION before her (incidentally, as an in-joke, a porn movie on the marquee is called "China Blue" – which had actually been the title under which that film was released in Italy!), "Liz" is also into servicing old men: one is a regular inside an old people’s home – with a bunch of nearby resting residents as gleeful ‘witnesses’; the other dies on the ‘job’ – at which point the pimp reappears…but so does Fargas who swiftly saves the day by slitting the latter’s throat!

For the record, the most notable films to revolve exclusively around the milieu of prostitutes are most of Kenji Mizoguchi’s films featuring downtrodden geishas, Federico Fellini’s NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1957), Jean-Luc Godard’s VIVRE SA VIE (1962) and Luis Bunuel’s BELLE DE JOUR (1967); this is not to say that WHORE in any way ever approaches their level of artistry but, one thing it certainly has that they do not is an amusingly crude and sexist Ska theme tune called "Doing The Bang" sung over the opening and closing credits by an anonymous band called Fascinating Force! By the way, for this viewing I again had to acquire at the very last minute a superior copy to the one I had originally owned (since the latter was evidently edited – running 78 minutes against its official length of 85) and, for what it is worth, the film is also available in one full segment on "You Tube"!

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