8 March 2006 | roghache
Wonderful Cinderella / Pygmalion tale, hooker style
What can I say that hasn't been said? This immensely popular, modern fairy tale romance is a fantastic 'feel good' must see. I can't resist watching it every single time it comes on TV. To tempt you if you haven't seen it...it's the story of a feisty, good hearted hooker named Vivian Ward, who is hired for a week by a wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis, to serve as his escort at a number of business related social functions. Needless to say, the relationship doesn't stay 'just business' for long.
Rather than the plot itself, the beautiful Julia Roberts makes this movie...and not simply because of her 88 inches of leg! Always endearing in her roles, she is at her absolute MOST endearing portraying Vivian in this picture. She brings a real vulnerability to the role, showing us that just like everyone else, prostitutes do indeed floss their teeth! Richard Gere pulls off quite convincingly the role of Edward, the ruthless, calculating millionaire businessman, who takes over companies only to sell them off piece by piece, quite unmindful of the interests of any people involved. To give Gere credit, I was quite impressed that he actually plays the piano in one of the movie's scenes.
Naturally, given Vivian's membership in the 'oldest profession', there is sex early on...though I, old fashioned and strict as I am, wouldn't hesitate to let my young teen see this movie. (There's worse in TV commercials today!) Oddly, the most truly intimate moment in this film is not during the more explicit sex but rather, simply a kiss.
Ohhhh, lots of romantic scenes, from a picnic in the park to jetting off in a private plane for a Big Night on the Town. And etiquette lessons...Vivian displays charming, amusing, curious innocence when she experiences with Edward her first opera (all the while looking knock out gorgeous in a stunning red gown), her first polo match, and her introduction to escargots. As the movie progresses, she is transformed Pygmalion style, from the street smart hooker provocatively dressed in tall black boots and mini skirt, to a sophisticated looking, elegantly gowned and coiffed young lady. But it's merely appearance...Vivian's heart of gold and her vulnerability both remain unchanged.
The status conscious snobbery of Beverly Hills dress shops and ritzy hotels, judging people by wealth and class, is well depicted here. When Vivian goes shopping for a 'more appropriate' wardrobe at some exclusive Rodeo Drive boutiques, she is not 'well received' by the sales ladies, who like all too many of us, are overly inclined to judge by appearance. You'll want these snobs to get their comeuppance. Actually, perhaps the most touching relationship in this entire film is the one between Vivian and Barney, the quite proper but kind desk manager at the high class hotel (where she is sharing a penthouse suite with Edward), who is able to see beyond appearance. He develops a genuine fondness and even more importantly, respect for her.
Other characters of interest...Kit is Vivian's appealing and sympathetic room-mate, also a hooker (Vivian's a loyal friend), and Stuckey is Edward's sleazy and despicable business colleague, portrayed by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, a TV show which I must confess is not my favourite.
As events unfold during the film, it becomes clear that, while Edward might not understand too clearly the meaning of 'prostitution', Vivian clearly does. And, it's another shining film illustration of that pearl of wisdom from Eliza Doolittle (of My Fair Lady) who enlightened us, 'The difference between a flower girl and a lady is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.' Or, in Vivian's own words, 'People put you down enough, you start to believe it'.
Great Cinderella movie...don't miss it.