IRINA PALM
DIRECTOR:         Sam Garbarski
BELGIUM/FRANCE/ENGLAND 2007
MUSIC:                Ghinzu
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Cristophe Beaucarne
WITH:                  Marianne Faithfull, Kevin Bishop, Siobhan Hewlett, Dorka Gryllus, Jenny Agutter, Corey Burke
ONE WORD:       Marianne Faithfull


There are times when it's difficult not to appreciate a movie, even if one can find a dumb excuse like the subject matter, or whatever else reason one could possibly drum up. And then, one can feel justified in not seeing something that one should, and might actually find it to be good, and unexpectedly satisfying ... never mind what the real ending of the story might be, which might make the film better or not.

In the end, grandma did her part, if you will and her honesty and care is what all this is about, and even if the little boy does not make it, we know that the effort was put out to make it happen, instead of letting it go, and not give the boy a chance.

In the midst of all this is a performance that is amazing, strong, and stands up to the very last moment by Marianne Faithfull, showing a lot more courage and acting ability than most people will ever conceive, and one might even wonder why Marianne does not do more work, or is she simply happy doing her album of music when the muse hits her ... we need actresses like this around, and then some.

The story is about her son whose offspring is ill and does not have a whole lot of time to live and his only chance of survival is an operation that has to take place in Australia, but where is the money going to come from? At her age, as is so visible everywhere in this world, it is not easy, and life at times is not pleasant. But she manages to find some work, and it is in a Sex shop where her job is to masturbate men. As things get going it is not easy and not something that is exactly a lot of fun, but she takes to it and starts collecting the money and eventually finds a deal with the owner of the place so she can buy the trip for her son and wife and child to get the treatment. And, as expected, here is where things get complicated and the film gets serious, and we start expecting a mess.

The other girls in the place are losing their jobs because everyone wants the mythical Irina, and this is a hard moment for Maggie to fathom, and while there is a sadness to it all, there is an underlying feeling, what else can I do? To give the child a chance? Unfortunately, this is like taking it away from another chance since one of the girls that she befriended also has a child that she needs to feed. Eventually her friends and her son begin to look to find out what is going on, and her son is not happy about it and forces her to quit, and it creates a mess of that marriage ... as eventually the wife realizes the sacrifice, and states clearly that she's proud of it ... that someone would care enough to do whatever they could to get the money.

But her friends are kept in the dark until the end, when Maggie finally tells them, to the shocked looks all around, and the idea that came to my mind was ... these bitches were rich enough to help and make things work in the first place, but that was not to happen! Specially as we find out a bit later that one of them, was not exactly a friend. But Maggie is not vindictive, she is just REAL and stands up for what is right, and in the end, her rightness, thanks to a magnificent performance, makes the wrong seem much sleazier and down right bad.

There are some nice moments in this film, and it is my pleasure to say that I did not feel like it was forced, or over done, and even a scene with the johns is more entertaining by the music, than the actual moments, when the guitar goes nuts for a second as one guys does as well, which, of course, is going to have you and I laughing.

But, if not for Marianne Faithfull's performance, there is one other detail here that is magnificent. The director knew when to get close and when to step away, and he gives her all the time needed for any moment, and Marianne Faithfull delivers with amazing ease and a performance that is quite spectacular and smooth. It's hard to not appreciate good work, and specially caring work, and it takes a really good director that knows when the actors are shining to never waste those moments, and this film is simply full of them!

Excellent film. Should not be missed, and should stand proud. It deserves to be much more than an art house film and a Film Festival show ... way more than that!

5 GIBLOONS

 

   

      

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