Irina Palm

Irina Palm

Directed: Sam Garbarski
Starring: Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Kevin Bishop

A middle-age woman takes a job at a sex club in order to pay for her grandson’s experimental surgery that might save his life. Seen at the Portland International Film Festival.

What could be depressing is a hoot. It isn’t salacious, even the parts in the sex club, but hilarious watching a middle-age “frump” (what she calls herself) try to come to terms the situation she has found herself in.

It starts a little bit on the depressing side when we are introduced to Maggie’s son and wife (who can’t seem to stand Maggie) and their son Ollie who seems to be dying from some unnamed disease. His various treatments to cure him have all failed and they have run out of people to borrow from. There is an experimental surgery that might work, but they have to go to Australia to have it done. The surgery will be free, but they need to pay for their way there, hospital bills and hotel. It also has to be soon since Ollie will be too weak to travel in six weeks.

This leads to a very bad situation for a widow who has no skills (she was apparently a housewife her adult life). After searching for work, she ends up at the sex club asking for a hostess job without really realizing that “hostess” is a euphemism. After viewing her very soft hands, the sleazy club owner has a job for her that he feels will work for her. She dismisses it, leaves, comes back and takes it. She works in a tiny room with a hole and I’ll let you figure out the rest from there.

This is where all the hilarious stuff comes in since she is too much of a prude to want to try it herself after watching another woman show her the ropes. She is very uncomfortable with what she does and hides from her so-called friends in the tiny village she lives while she jumps the train into Soho each day. As she continues on with her work, she slowly becomes more confident and apparently quite good at her job.

I laughed a lot at the movie, partly for shock value, but partly because the outrageous situation was so believable due to actress. Also, you can’t fault a movie for using the fabulous medical term, “penis elbow.”

Rating: B+


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