Film Reviews


By • May 14th, 2012 •

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They sell their bodies but never their souls.

It’s not lucrative nor is it accompanied with benefits and a retirement package.

The harsh reality is substantially less PRETTY WOMAN and more MONSTER.

A world away from HBO’s cameras at the Bunny Ranch and far removed from the Hollywood high-priced call girls caught with A-listers are women, some just young girls, who provide carnal services in exchange for a meager existence.

In Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico, women of different cultures and religions under the banner of “whore” share their tribulations sans the morality issue and without prejudicial judgments by filmmaker Michael Glawogger. Since prostitutes are generally regarded as mendacious, we must abandon all doubt and take what they say as gospel.

Three Thai females punch in at a time clock, proceed to what appears to be a salon to have hair and make-up done, and then sit in a glass encased area of a modern well designed “hotel styled” lobby as men peer into The Fishbowl. Young Bangladeshi teenaged girls run amok in childish horseplay through the concrete corridors of a tenement of one-roomed quarters while the squabble of women young and old pulling on prospective clients reverberates loudly. Along the pot-holed streets of “The Zone,” cars pass slowly eyeing the meretriciously dressed Mexican women standing in front of doorways of their dilapidated rooms furnished with a mattress and images of Holy Death.

The Thai girls seemingly have a better life than the others. We view them shopping, eating, at home, and out meeting with “bar boys.” There are other options, places, and careers to pursue. In Bangladesh, a young girl is inspected, bought, and told the rules of servitude. Children are born here to follow the same path and if enough money is saved, eventually, they can have girls working for them when time puts the old out of commission. Within these harrowed halls exists a form of kinship and motherly love even among the face of contempt and competition. The Mexican Zone is a fenced in outlaw town from a Robert Rodriguez film. There is drunkenness and drug use, rampant profanity, and the most lewd commentary. One woman tells of the numerous cities and brothels in which she worked. Another boasts to the point of exulting about her skills and tricks of the trade. However, there is a general sense that this is the end of the road.

One Bangladeshi girl appears to have already born the weight of the world. She would like to know why women suffer so much and why must they endure this path. She refuses laughter because it brings about tears. One of the Mexican women supports the statement and we learn that outward laughter is indeed an inward cry. The little girl in Bangladesh theorizes, “Maybe there is no path at all.”

In Mexico, the images of Holy Death are on the walls, on dressers, and even tattooed. The women pray for a Holy Death. As one woman stated, “…If she doesn’t take your life you have to do it yourself.”

Although this film is about the female, we learn much about the males. There is only one constant for the males regardless of culture. Whether it is Bhat, Taka, or Peso, they all haggle. Their views and actions differ.

At The Fishbowl, the women wear a number and are discussed by the manager and the prospective clients. He assures a good body, good service, none will disappoint and all is inclusive. Once a decision is made, the manager rattles off the girls’ numbers, then the girls and clients greet one another politely in Thai fashion, pay by credit card or cash at the cashier and into an elevator they go.

There is a reverence toward women by the men in Thailand. Questioning their reasons for patronizing such an establishment, one guy wished to buy himself a little happiness and is certain that none compare to his life partner, his wife. Another wanted a departure from the reality of the day. (In my opinion (not FIR’s) only the Americans present seemed to emit a “creep factor.” One who spoke Thai commented that the girl looked fifteen (but what the hell, right? Creep!) Given the favorable conversion rate, I guess these guys were on a sybaritic holiday.

In Bangladesh, some males have a relationship with the women, visiting them for a nominal fee several times a day or week. A barber who goes twice a day explained that if such a place did not exist men would rape women and farm animals. In The Zone, the males were the vilest and could display as much machismo as they had pesos to do so.

The beautifully shot production is accompanied by a hauntingly appropriate soundtrack. This film leaves one with a disturbing realization of the suffering and the plight of women. The unsettling images of a drunken prostitute bare-assed in The Zone, a young girl for sale among crowds of passing men staring into oblivion with the look of mental trauma etched into her face, a cowboy telling a girl to “just smile,” linger. This is not a film that is forgotten once the lights go back on.

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One Response »

  1. As I viewed this film and grew more dismayed, disgusted , and horrified. The worst part is that the stories told are just what the filmakers were allowed to see in certain regions of the world. Other places where there is much more abuse and horror can only be imagined. A slight insight was shown in the film “Taken” with Liam Neeson. There is so much wrong in the world and so much that needs correction. Unfortunately, money rules the horrible people who let this go on. The people who run/own these establishments of course are greatly feared. It would take an army to raid these individual “businesses” to destroy and imprison for life these disgusting monsters that force or endorse this “business.” Kudos to Mr. Frassetti for another review to make you think, react, get very angry, and learn a little more about what life is truly like for some people in the world that the average person just has no clue. A definite must see film.

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