24 February 2007 | bob the moo
By turns an interesting and depressing documentary that has visually dated but not thematically
After a rather dry introduction by director Beeban Kidron, this interesting and depressing documentary gets right down to business with two men showing her around a building they are going to turn into a New York city brothel. Although the film does show sexual acts (pixilated) the film is never titillating in the way some "documentaries" about the sex industry (be it pornography, stripping or prostitution) and this is a good thing. It covers a range of types of prostitution from the brothels, the high-price streets right down to the women who are just earning enough to buy that day's fix.
It is not a cheerful film but it is not a judgemental one neither thanks to Kidron's handling of her subjects and material. So we get to hear from working girls who have had mixed experiences, those who love the work, men who walk about the wider art of hustling and women who simply have nothing else in their life but sex and the drugs that it pays for. The messages are therefore mixed and the film wisely avoids suggesting easy solutions because, I think it knows, there are simply none to be had. The contributions are mostly honest and interesting from those given the time to talk and relate. I must admit that I found the street vox pops to be mostly pointless and fail to bring out any genuine or interesting conversation but these didn't take up too much time.
Visually the film has dated because the clothes, hair styles and so on have all been and gone and the film is very stuck in the late eighties/early nineties and it is easy to assume the material is as well. However ignoring the visuals it all still applies and fans of HBO's The Wire will recognise much in the women selling themselves for a few dollars just to get a hit. Overall then a pretty good documentary that sees Kidron mostly just point and shoot. It perhaps lacks a point which will bother some but to me was a strength and it simple depicts and allows the viewer to think for themselves.