An Eyeful for Faithfull
A man walks into a Soho sex shop, pays his money to go into a room where he sticks his cock through a hole to get hand pleasure. What is he thinking? Is he thinking about a sexy young woman on the other side of a thin wall pleasuring him? I wonder what he would think if he knew it was a middle aged widow in a cleaners overall. That is just part of "Irina Palm" a touching and very funny movie which will put a whopping great big smile on your face and never let you lose it. Oh and before you get the gist that "Irina Palm" is a movie all about sex it isn't, it is about a middle aged widow who through a situation grows in confidence having been beaten down by life. And that middle aged woman is brilliantly played by Marianne Faithfull who gets both every ounce of emotion and humour out of her character often by saying nothing at all.
With her grandson Olly (Corey Burke) seriously sick with his last hope specialist treatment in Australia, Maggie (Marianne Faithfull) finds herself walking through London in a daze over the dire situation having sold everything to fund all his treatment. Spotting a sign on a door advertising for a hostess job she goes in unaware that she is walking into a sex shop where hostess means something very different to what she thinks. But the owner Miki (Miki Manojlovic) is bemused by Maggie, this middle aged woman with the softest of hands and offers her work providing hand jobs. Disgusted by the thought but desperate to earn money to pay for Olly's treatment she ashamedly agrees and starts her new job with some surprising results.
When you first watch "Irina Palm" there is a chance you could be a little confused because the initial look of the movie looks like a 70s movie from Europe especially when we see Maggie climbing into her sons old Triumph Dolomite. But any concerns that maybe this is some old style European movie soon fade as we learn all about the situation, Maggie's grandson seriously ill and the only hope is to fund a trip to Australia for specialist treatment. At the same time as we learn of the only hope we are also aware that Maggie has sold everything in order to fund all the treatment over the years and now finds herself still invited to play cards with her rich friends who look down their noses at her. How does all this lead to sex, well in a state of confusion Maggie sees a sign on a door advertising for hostesses and unaware what that means goes in to apply and finds herself in "Sex World" owned by Miki who seeing how soft her hands are offers her a job which is well paid.
Now what follows is simply brilliant because whilst repulsed by the thought of working in a sex shop Maggie needs the money and ashamedly agrees. This leads to the first of many hilarious scenes as Maggie is shown the ropes and the facial expressions as she has to give her first hand job under the guidance of Luisa is hilarious. And it is just as hilarious as we watch Maggie change as over time she puts her heart into her new work, she goes from being a bit frumpy to invigorated by the control she has over the men who queue up for her soft touch. And that in itself is hilarious the number of men queuing to be satisfied by this anonymous woman who behind the wall is wearing a cleaners overall, in her slippers reading a magazine with one hand and doing .... well you know what with the other. The fact that she is so popular she gets 'penis elbow' is just as funny and there is a whole lot more which is going to put a huge smile on your face.
Of course there is the other side to this because when she hands over a huge wad of cash to her son Tom there are questions as to how she has got this money leading to some drama. But "Irina Palm" whilst both dramatic and funny is a movie all about Maggie basically coming to life having been beaten down by life. We watch her go from being frumpy and time warn to glowing and sexy, invigorated by what she is doing, the control she has, the popularity and money she makes. And we watch her confidence grow from being timid and ashamed to being brazen which leads to one of the movies funniest scenes as she tells her gossiping, snobbish friends exactly what she has been doing. And it is beautiful to watch Maggie blossom as a woman in control having been beaten down by life.
As such "Irina Palm" is all about the performance of Marianne Faithfull and what a magnificent performance it is. Faithfull delivers the emotion and humour, be it the hilarity we get when she performs her first hand job to the shame she has as she tries to hide what she is doing from everyone else. And what is magnificent is Faithfull does this not through words but they way she acts, the way she sheepishly hides at the train station hoping no one will see her to the look of shock when a huge cock comes through the hole. And of course as we watch her become accustomed to what she is doing you have the nonchalant way she goes about doing it, one hand on a book, the other on a cock. As such whilst Miki Manojlovic is solid as Miki and both Kevin Bishop and Siobhan Hewlett don't let the side down as her son Tom and his wife Sarah it is Faithfull who makes this so entertaining.
What this all boils down to is that "Irina Palm" may look like a weird movie and it may even sound weird but it is truly brilliant. And whilst you will have a huge smile on your face through the humour of what Maggie does you will have just as big a smile because of the way she blossoms as a person.