(directed by Michael Glawogger, 2011)
**** (out of 5)
> Michael Glawogger, the Austrian filmmaker behind this singular documentary, traveled the world to peek behind the gauze curtain of myth and look at the real lives of working prostitutes, and the result is a stunner!
. Wisely, the documentarians decided not to make themselves a part of the story at all- allowing the prostitutes and their Johns to speak for themselves. The filmmakers are never glimpsed or heard from. If any questions were asked of the subjects, they were wisely omitted from the final edit. (The off camera crew are only referred to once, with humor.) We visit Thailand, Bangladesh and finally Mexico, to see the often-harsh truths of the world’s oldest profession. This fascinating film casts an unjaundiced eye into some pretty dark shadows, getting unparalleled access to both the ladies and their clients, who appear to speak with an absolutely guileless directness that takes the shocking and makes it banal. In fact, the banality of the profession is front and center in this film- a difficult thing to accept or embrace.
. The camera is unflinching. Were it to be rated, WHORE’S GLORY would be stamped “NC-17”- what we used to call “X-rated”. In one sequence we watch the entire encounter, making of us, uncomfortable voyeurs. But it’s not pornography, because the intent of pornography is to titillate and arouse. This encounter is a financial arrangement and as such, is about as sexy to watch as someone clipping their toenails! In fact the sex is so detached and mechanical, that even the poor John can’t sustain the fantasy of arousal. She sucks him, she fucks him- but time runs out. It’s not an all-day proposition. Unsatisfied but out of money, she throws the poor guy out on his ear. As he leaves, we learn that it was never really sex he wanted from her at all- but closeness, intimacy with another human being, when he says shyly: “You never even told me your name.”
. I have always been in favor of decriminalization of this behavior. Making it illegal will never stop it. It is a completely unrealistic approach. My big problems with the sex trade have centered around the profiteers: the pimps who often brutalize and extort their “ladies” or promulgate sex-slavery and the sheer fact of the power gap between the genders that makes women feel they have no other choice but to capitalize on their powerlessness and use the only part of them they feel is valued by society to bridge that economic inequity. What kind of message is society sending that women’s sex organs have more earnings potential than their brains? Oddly, pimps are never mentioned or glimpsed here- a curious choice making each woman seem like a private contractor of sorts- and much more self-empowered than they really are.
. Honestly, I wish people just got the intimacy they need to survive and thrive- and all the sex they needed, so this mutually exploitive profession wouldn’t even exist. In an uptight, puritan world like this- that ain’t gonna happen.
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