DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
WHORE (director/writer: Ken Russell; screenwriters: Deborah Dalton/from the play Bondage by David Hines; cinematographer: Amir M. Mokri; editor: Brian Tagg; music: Micheal Gibbs; cast: Theresa Russell (Liz), Benjamin Mouton (Blake), Antonio Fargas (Rasta), Michael Crabtree (Man in the Car), John Diehl (Derelict), Ken Russell (Waiter), Lynn Allen (Wounded Girl, Ginger), Sanjay (Indian), Jack Nance (Man Who Helps Liz), Danny Trejo (Tattoo Artist), Jason Saucier (Bill); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Dan Ireland; Trimark; 1991)

 
"Theresa Russell as the low-rent whore failed to be convincing."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In Ken Russell's ("Crimes of Passion") downbeat take on the life of an LA streetwalker, he aims to show that a whore's existence is not an easy one. Liz (Theresa Russell, no relation to Ken) is the crass "whore with the heart of gold" who escorts us on a tour of her hard life. It's a bitch of a film. It veers away from the filmmaker's usual excessive, kinky and cutting-edge filming techniques, and turns out instead to be a banal offering with no fresh insights or compensating psychological takes on its subject-matter. It's adapted by Mr. Russell and Deborah Dalton from the English play by David Hines called "Bondage" and chronicles one day in the life of Liz the whore. She speaks directly to the camera, docudrama style, telling us about her gang rape, beatings, daily humiliations and adventures with an assortment of tricks--some good, some turds. The film intercuts from the present to flashbacks that show how she got started as a whore, her failed marriage to Bill (Jason Saucier), her son taken away to protective custody because she's declared an unfit mother, and how a sadistic pimp named Blake (Benjamin Mouton) took control of her earnings and her life. Rasta (Antonio Fargas) plays the black skid-row philosopher who befriends Liz (her only friend in the film).

Theresa Russell as the low-rent whore failed to be convincing; she was wooden and strident as she tries desperately to get a handle on her character, it all seems like play acting. It's mostly an 'old hat' rant from Theresa, in a continuous monologue, about the woes of being a whore in the seedy confines of downtown Los Angeles. If all that weren't annoying enough, we have to hear the detestable pimp boast of his business skills in a voice-over. It adds up to a dispiriting flick about exploitation that is nothing more than an in-your-face insider's telling about the world's oldest profession, a film that I was not better off for seeing and was hardly moved at all by the whore's plight as I was supposed to be.

REVIEWED ON 4/14/2006        GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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