Dave White
Irina Palm Review

Dave's Rating:


… naughty with a side of cozy adorability.

Who's in It: Marianne Faithfull, Kevin Bishop, Siobhan Hewlett, Jenny Agutter

The Basics: Faced with huge medical bills for her grandson's mystery illness, a late-middle-aged woman goes to work in a London club called Sexy World, where she … helps male customers and earns the name "Irina Palm." It's the carpal-tunnel comedy of 2008 and will probably retain that honor unless Meryl Streep decides to star in the American version.

What's the Deal? This will probably do well in England, where they seem to like their naughty with a side of cozy adorability. And as for casting, I could have believed it all a little more if it starred Judi Dench instead of Faithfull. As it is, she's great and deadpan and all that, but the woman used to hang out with Mick Jagger. I just can't fully buy her as an innocent granny who becomes a sex worker.

Unanswered Questions Partially Explained Here: According to Sicko, the U.K. has single-payer universal health care (aka free), but this movie sets up a scenario where the dying grandson has massive medical bills. My British friends tell me that this only applies to specialists, something the film refuses to make clear because it's too busy trying to wring pathos and cuteness out of its Christmastime setting and Faithfull's dowdy aprons.

Other Weirdness: The romance-with-the-club-owner subplot; the film's waffling between hand-wringing and prostitution-as-self-esteem-booster cheerleading; and the strangely distracting Austin Powers-like way it places bottles and coats and other stuff right in the way of the "action."

Hey, Logan's Run Fans: Nosey, judgmental neighbor Jane is played by Agutter, the woman who ran around with Michael York looking for "Sanctuary."


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