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Irina Palm

April 4, 2011

Irina Palm (2007)
Director: Sam Garbarski
Actors: Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Kevin Bishop

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Synopsis: To help pay for her grandson’s medical treatment, a Home Counties widow (Marianne Faithfull) works as the unlikeliest of sex workers in Soho.

Review: The notion that a Home Counties widow would choose to moonlight as a Soho sex-worker (the ingeniously named ‘Irina Palm’ of the title) as the best way to pay for her grandson’s medical care, is clearly an idea that should never have seen the light of day, bar at best a five-minute comedy sketch for the likes of David Walliams and Matt Lucas. That this film actually plays this premise more or less straight is truly bizarre, and if it wasn’t for the downright awfulness of the end-result, one could argue that the narrative is actually quite tasteless – creating a hook about a sickly little boy and his family lacking the necessary finances to fly him to Australia, as a means to propel lead actress Marianne Faithfull on this path to smuttiness.

All the flaws in the film come down to one thing – the screenplay. As mentioned earlier, the premise is utterly bogus, and once the early twist of Faithfull’s character surprisingly earning some money as a masturbator par excellence is established, there’s nowhere really for the film to go bar some regulation soapy conflicts. The dialogue is risible, and the screenwriters have absolutely no idea how to shape the narrative – no sequence lasts longer than about two minutes, and how many times do we need to see an establishing shot of Oxford Circus tube station, or Faithfull make the same daily train journey, or picture Faithfull deep in thought, to ‘get’ her supposed dilemma and secret double-life? Irina Palm‘s only calling-card will be in one of those “so bad, it’s good” categories, and offers proof that sometimes even awful concepts really can make it all the way through to the big screen. (April 2011)

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