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USA/UK 1991
Directed by
Ken Russell
88 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars


Theresa Russell’s career started strongly around 1980 with Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing. Through the '80s she was seen largely in films by Roeg (Eureka,1983, Insignificance, 1985, and Track 29, 1988). Presumably because Roeg (whom she married in 1986)  was progressively running out of steam she took the role of Liz, a prostitute in this film by the once-darling of outrageous English cinema, Ken Russell. Unfortunately he had even less puff than her hubby and if Whore marks the beginning of her career slide, it was the end of his, at least filmically (he continued to make TV movies).

Manifesting Russell’s characteristic prurient sexuality (he made Crimes of Passion in 1984 with Kathleen Turner as a fashion designer by day and a call girl at night) it purports to tell the story of an L.A, street sex worker in what is clearly intended as the antithesis of  Pretty Woman (1990).  But for all its tawdriness, Theresa Russell is no more convincing as a bit of rough trade than was Julia Roberts. The script by the director and Deborah Dalton which depends largely on Russell narrating her story, sometimes speaking direct to camera, is based on a play 'Bondage' by a London taxi driver who, in turn based it on the stories told to him by real hookers.

It is evident that there is underlying thread of reality to the film which shows the dangerous and soul-destroying nature of Liz’s work but Ken Russell’s realization of it is so mechanical and Theresa Russell so unconvincing that the plot synopsis is the most that you are ever going to get out of it, whilst the '80s tackiness is, depending on your POV, either a bonus or an insult added to injury.

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