20 May 2017 | TonyDood
Good, but not for obvious reasons
I chose this film while randomly perusing Amazon Prime's lists, a strange new occupation I find a lot of us pursuing of late. I was looking for something in the vein of a Sebastian Gutierrez indie flick. I chose the movie based entirely on the description and poster, something I never do any more as my time is too precious to gamble on a bad movie. I was rewarded with a pleasant, if unremarkable, film that I'd definitely recommend, but for reasons other than the obvious ones. It wasn't bad and had a decent story but that's not what prompted me to write a review about it.
In downtown LA a young woman is earning her keep as a high-priced sexual escort and a young aspiring writer has lost his job and is looking for a good story. He's also addicted to an "instant hookup" app and ends up meeting our lady of the night in a bar when he thinks she's his next match. They form a partnership where he gets his story (about her) in return for watching over her while she deals with unsavory men, and if you can't guess what happens next this is probably the first movie you've ever seen.
I found the first 20 minutes or so enticing; the cast was attractive, the dialog crisp, the acting sit-com level or higher and since it opened with a woman having "specialty" sex and the male lead tramping around, it seemed like a film that was going to have an edge to it. It doesn't, and in fact it ends up being lighter fare, topically, than anything you'd see on prime time TV, but it passed the time. I started checking my phone at the half-hour mark and never really engaged again after that but I didn't turn it off either.
What really sold me on this film, and has kept me thinking about it for days, was the soundtrack. Not since the 80s or 90s can I think of a movie where I was so intrigued by the music playing underneath scenes and transitions, and the way it flavored my experience of this film. I've spent a lot of time in downtown LA and thereabouts and with the great photography and soundtrack the filmmakers really got the "feel" of the area right. It's not as easy a thing to do as one might imagine; making a film that accurately portrays a location isn't as simple as just planting a camera there, you have to get the feel of it right.
I'm also intrigued by films that are focused on sex but don't actually include any sexual content. There are a couple of fully-clothed "humping" scenes in this movie but it's all fairly innocent and unobtrusive. It reminds you that a steamy sex scene with full nudity isn't always necessary to make a point. Films made before the ratings game came into play in the late 60s or so had to rely on technique rather than bared skin to convey sexual tension. Again...how it "feels" rather than simply how rutting looks when you focus a camera on it. It's not a common practice any more and I have no qualms about showing sexuality and nudity, it's just intriguing when it ISN'T shown, especially in a film that is ostensibly about a woman who sells her sexuality for a living.
Lastly, I found it interesting that the movie seems to take place in a world populated mostly by Caucasians. It's not something I really thought about until I saw this movie; the idea that these people dwell downtown but rarely encounter any racial (or gender, for that matter) diversity seems odd. Again, having spent a lot of time in these locations it's unlikely to say the least. It's not a judgment call, I'm wasn't offended, just intrigued...had the film been made 15-20 years ago it wouldn't have even crossed my mind.
Anyway, worth a look, which is actually quite an accomplishment.