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IRINA PALM

SYNOPSIS:
Middle-aged London widow Maggie (Marianne Faithfull) must find the money for her grandson's (Corey Burke) lifesaving medical treatment - if his family, including her son Tom (Kevin Bishop) and his wife Sarah (Siobhan Hewlett), can fly to Australia. Her financial resources already exhausted, a "Hostess Wanted" sign catches her eye and Maggie naively stumbles into a city sex club. The job description is quite a surprise, even if she isn't a prude but it's her very last option. At first, Maggie finds it hard at Sexy World, but wisecracking colleague Luisa (Dorka Gryllus) shows her the ropes and the two women strike up a friendship. Tough guy club owner Miki (Miki Manojlovic) reveals a soft spot for dutiful Maggie, and transforms her into the much-in-demand and lucrative Irina Palm. But her son must never know ...

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
There is a stillness to Marianne Faithfull's performance that's usually the mark of great actors, an emotional magnet that pulls us toward the centre of their character, and it helps to make this a rewarding as well as unique film. Lead writer Philippe Blasband, has a history of innovative screenplays (Thomas In Love, A Pornographic Affair, Gilles' Wife) and director Sam Garbarski handles the off beat material in style.

Miki Manojlovic as Miki the nightclub owner provides a wonderful face and a smooth characterisation that a lesser actor would have found too challenging, as Miki's balance shifts from the demi-monde of Soho into something approaching sunlight (symbolised by his dream house in Majorca). Dorka Gryllus is also excellent in a small but pivotal role as Maggie's colleague at Sexy World, whose job is undermined by Maggie's success, thus crushing their friendship.

It's not an entirely novel concept, having a character do desperate things to make money for a life saving operation, so the concept has to be refreshed for it to be engaging - and it is. But the trick isn't so much in what Maggies agrees to do for her grandson's medical needs, it's in how well she is portrayed, and how she adapts to the situation.

In that respect the film is more like a character study, and the screenplay also offers several opportunities for wry humour to give the mood some zing.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

IRINA PALM (MA)
(UK/Germany/France, 2007)

CAST: Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Kevin Bishop, Siobhan Hewlett, Dorka Gryllus, Jenny Agutter, Corey Burke

PRODUCER: Sebastain Delloy, Diana Elbaum, Georges van Breughel

DIRECTOR: Sam Garbarski

SCRIPT: Sam Garbarski, Philippe Blasbland, Martin Herron

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christophe Beaucarne

EDITOR: Ludo Troch

MUSIC: Ghinzu

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Veronique Sacrez

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sharmill/Aztec

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 20, 2007







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