‘Irina Palm’ movie review: deadpan Kaurismaki-like drama

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A deadpan, quietly effective performance by Marianne Faithfull greatly lifts Sam Garbarski’s Irina Palm, a Kaurismaki-like drama with darkly comedic elements.

Maggie (Faithfull) needs to raise money for a last-ditch operation for her dying grandson. Out of options, with no decipherable skills at her age, she eventually wanders into Sexy World after spotting an advertisement looking for ‘hostesses’.

Here she meets Mikky (Miki Manojlovic), a sex club owner who is quite surprised by Maggie and offers her a job: working behind a glory hole, giving anonmous handjobs to male customers.

Soon, her talents are discovered, and she’s the star of the club working under the name of Irina Palm.

Maggie’s journey into the sex business is nothing less than fascinating (and handled with much more restraint than one might expect), and Faithfull is likewise fascinating to watch, conveying a multitude of emotion with a minimum of dialogue.

Family drama, with Maggie’s son discovering where she’s getting her money, is far more conventional, and a subplot with Maggie’s ‘cultured’ friends is even less satisfying.

Overall, a surprisingly respectful and entertaining film, highlighted by a fascinating look into a little-seen world, with a compelling lead performance.

Irina Palm

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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