Right after I read about his trilogy, a Glawogger film opens in my neighborhood, so the wife and I went on a date to see his whore movie. There are interviews with the participants, but mostly it’s an immersive thing, you figure out how the whoring works in each region by fly-on-the-walling it. But M.G.’s great innovation is to produce a verite/interview doc with killer camerawork and sound design. You sometimes get curious framing or a decent music score in a doc, but usually the serious documentarian’s stylistic presence is felt through editing. Not anymore, as the weird vibes of CocoRosie swirl through a surprisingly elegant movie about prostitutes in increasingly desperate conditions.
First Thailand: the girls have home lives and ideas about what they’d like to do post-prostitution. Their brothel advertises, accepts credit cards and employs a woman who acts like a den mother. Then Bangladesh, a sharp step down in living conditions, as kids are sold to live and work in a complex they’ll never afford to leave. Finally Mexico, where it’s every girl for herself, with no supervision, a desperate, dangerous-seeming atmosphere, and enough of a who-gives-a-fuck attitude that the filmmaker is allowed inside to watch some whoring in action: sadness for everyone involved.
Katy and I discussed the movie for like ninety minutes, but that was a month ago, so I cannot provide a summary.
C. Huber in Cinema Scope:
Thriving on contradiction and observational curiosity as usual, Glawogger still resolutely rejects social cause-pandering, but scratches for something deeper by contrasting the rituals of love (for sale) in three different cultures, religions and economies: a look not just at prostitution, but the relationships between men and women in contemporary society that yields telling and ambivalent insights.