Irina (Natalia Novakova) has left Russia to support her mother and daughter, and has fallen into prostitution in Melbourne, "just till the end of the year", but her world is constantly under threat by fellow Russian, Anton (Alex Menglet), with underworld connections. Gloria (Wendy Hughes) is a televangelist with a thriving church franchise, and is married to Barry (Bruce Myles), a biblical scholar who needs more human warmth, intimacy and love than Gloria can offer. He starts to confide in and trust Irina ... and when Gloria goes on tour with her producer, Tony (Kim Gyngell), Barry makes a decision that changes all their lives.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
True to his creative, eccentric and mischievous self, Paul Cox has made another film in which he spins a web of man's own doing, a wry, acidic tale that unmasks televangelists as fakes and moral dwarfs. None too subtly, he puts a single mother forced into prostitution as the device with which to unseat the self delusional Gloria (Wendy Hughes) and her long suffering husband, biblical scholar, Barry (Bruce Myles).
Natalia Novakova plays Irina, the Russian migrant working for Melbourne crim Anton (Alex Menglet) as a prostitute, sending money home for her mother and little daughter. Novakova creates a sympathetic and average young woman, whose world is proscribed by her circumstances. Gloria and Barry have a choice - and we see what they do with it. Behind the mask of saving souls is a cynical franchise operation and money is just as welcome here as in any other household. To make things even more pointed, Cox gives their marriage a façade of sham.
Hughes is great in this uncharacteristic role, and Bruce Myles distinguishes himself as the man who finds a path away from God, but not away from humanity. Kim Gyngell delivers a terrific Tony, Gloria's ultra-dry accompanist, travelling companion and tv producer.
For good measure, Cox drags in Barry Humphries to play an entertaining cameo of a massage client, confessing to Irina that he's due back at the nursing home ... Other Cox regulars, here in smaller roles, include Chris Haywood as an architect, Aden Young (who doubles on editing duties) as a tv commercial character, Terry Norris as an art gallery guide and Bud Tingwell as a Christian bigot.
Although serious in intent, Cox is keen to put a smile on our face with Salvation, and manages just that with a wicked ending.
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CAST: Wendy Hughes, Bruce Myles, Natalia Novakova, Kim Gyngell, Alex Menglet, Richard Piper, Maggie Miles, Chris Haywood, Terry Norris, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell, Monica Maughan, Deidre Rubenstein, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Loene Carmen and Barry Humphries
PRODUCER: Paul Cox, Tony Llewellyn Jones
DIRECTOR: Paul Cox
SCRIPT: Paul Cox
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ian Jones
EDITOR: Aden Young
MUSIC: Paul Grabowsky
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Oliver Streeton, Charlotte Haywood
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 19, 2009