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Irina Palm (DVD Review)

3 Aug, 2008 By: Amanda McCorquodale

Irina Palm

Street 8/12/08
Box Office $0.04 million
$27.99 DVD
Rated ‘R' for strong sexual content, nudity and language.
Stars Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Kevin Bishop, Siobhan Hewlett.

In Irina Palm, a widowed grandmother named Maggie must do the unthinkable to save the life of her sick grandson. The only treatment for Ollie is in Melbourne, Australia — a long and expensive trip for this British working class family.

Already mired in debt, Ollie's parents prepare for their child's final demise as Maggie secretly searches for employment. After seeing an ad for a hostess wanted in a London club, Maggie meets with Miki, the club owner, only to realize his definition of “hosting” is not what she expected. As Miki explains, the club is a sex club and the job requires providing certain services for men while remaining unseen.

Consumed with the possibility of giving Ollie another chance at life, Maggie accepts. This demoralizing yet lucrative job gives Maggie enough cash to send Ollie to get treatment, but more interestingly, the job saves Maggie's life from a middle-aged ennui that borders on unhappiness. With the stage name of Irina Palm, she quickly becomes the club's main attraction.

Maggie is played by Marianne Faithfull, a singer infamous for her involvement with Mick Jagger in the 1960s who hit rock bottom as a drug addict living on the streets of London's Soho. Now with a growing filmography, Faithfull, as an actress, brings a haggard elegance to her films.

Irina Palm is quirkier than Calendar Girls but it runs along the same predictable plot lines and often slides into the melodramatic. Yet, the film is saved by the unconventional relationship that Maggie forms with Miki, the club owner, and their honest and surprisingly heartwarming interactions provide much-needed depth. Maggie's relationships with the other characters in the club humanize this subculture that most consider to be strictly offensive yet few actually enter.

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