intellectual vanities… about close to everything

Irina Palm by Sam Gabarsky – a widow that can even wank with dignity

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After smaller parts in “Intimacy” and “Marie Antoinette”, Marianne Faithfull received twenty minutes of standing ovations after the premiere of “Irina Palm” during this year’s “Berlinale”. And duly so, as it is her breathtaking but retained acting that keeps this movie going.

60 years old Maggie needs money urgently. Her grandson is seriously ill in hospital, and the surgery that could save his life is way beyond what his parents can afford. She will have to come up with an idea soon if she is to give her son and daughter-in-law fresh hope. Desperate, Maggie finds herself responding to a temptingly lucrative job offer at a sex club. At “Sexy World”, the shy but sprightly widow meets the club’s charming manager, Miki (Miki Manojlovic), who bluntly introduces her to her tasks as a “hostess”. Her new colleague, Luisa, acquaints her friendly with the rules of the game and, before long, the conscientious Maggie becomes the much sought after and well-paid “Irina Palm”, rendering five minutes handjobs at a “glory hole”. Along with the cash, Maggie gains renewed self-confidence, realising that she’s not as old, unattractive and useless as she had believed herself to be. But then it transpires that Soho, where she renders her sexually hygienic services, is not a million miles away from the conservative suburb where Maggie lives, and her clandestine existence begins to raise the suspicions of both her son and her inquisitive neighbours alike, when Maggie comes up with the 6000 quid for her grandson’s treatment. But even when everything comes to light, Maggie refuses to let this get her down … But this emancipation is somewhat paradoxical: while her job is extremely other-directed, at the same time it teaches autonomy from dusty bourgeois conventions, where dignity (or the illusion of it) requires permanent struggle.

In the end, her son respects her decision, her grandson flies to Australia and Maggie lives with Miki happily in Soho.
End of story? Perhaps it is this surprisingly melodramatic happy end that should alarm the spectator about the movie’s subversiveness. What comes along as a comedy is in fact a bitter caricature of a miserable, relentless and bitter society, where all human relationships are rendered in terms of money and competition. This movie was made in UK, but it appears that it won’t take long before Germany or any other place of the globalised world could host it. It is real: a disease that is not covered by insurance can ruin one’s life in less than four months time.

Everything is subdued to a system of utilisation, human existence is instrumentalized. Who has nothing to offer but his hands, will sell his hands for wanking, even the left one, if the right one does not work anymore due to penis-arm problems. Sex becomes entirely depersonalised and an extravagant factory job for an aproned masturbation ferry — human existence trapped in social structures, conventions and behavioural patterns prostituting all and everything while its protagonists feel nothing but sneering contempt for what they consider perverted whores.

This awsome ethical exporation leads astonishingly to a happy end, as strange as a movie miracle can be. But perhaps is even that final kind of kitsch a critical turning point of the movie demonstrating that self-determination by increased alienation is a contradiction in itself? The politically not correct and romantic tragicomedy turnes into a bitter and satirical diatribe about political and social structures that are forcibly installed allover the globalised world. “Deregulation”, “liberalisation”, “flexibility” and “self-determination” in this system liberalise capital flow reducing individuals to simple variables within a deregulated growth of economy, and leaving no room for real self-determined agency. In this line of thought the movie presents the bitter teaching for the socially deprived and the HartzIV-pack grannies: learn some wanking and help yourself!

Written by huehueteotl

July 5, 2007 at 9:03 am

Posted in Movies/Books, Music

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