Archive for February 27, 1987

Working Girls

February 27, 1987

An excellent, to-the-point drama about a high-class brothel in Manhattan and the bored but generally intelligent women who work there. Molly (Louise Smith), a lesbian pushing thirty and a Yale graduate with two degrees, doesn’t really know why she chose to be a prostitute, but she likes the money. Though she’s only been working at the brothel for two months, Molly is vaguely demoralized — the businesslike tedium of her job has begun to harden her and interfere with her private sex life. Written and directed by women, the movie very specifically doesn’t deal with the perilous lifestyle of street hooking and all the sociology that goes with it; it chooses this idealized and relatively benign form of sex work in order to explore in more abstract terms what the work does to its practitioner. Nobody makes any big speeches about the morality of prostitution; the selling of sex to lonely men is routinized and, finally, made to look ridiculous. All of the women come across as real people, women who have lives outside the brothel. This third feature from director Lizzie Borden showed promise that she sadly hasn’t been able to follow up on — her next film was the awful Sean Young thriller Love Crimes, and since then she’s been more or less adrift. You might also want to look up her earlier film Born in Flames (1983), probably her most famous.

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