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Whore Review

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Betrayed by her husband, Liz is trapped by poverty and struggling to support her baby. After taking cash to go on a date she begins her life on the street, but falls victim to a brutal assualt. After becoming increasingly dependent on a pimp, and realizes she must find a way out, but her pimp has other ideas.

★★★★

A creaky adaptation from the David Hine play, Bondage, Ken Russell’s Whore — in a fashion as blunt and downright vulgar as the title suggests — tracks a day in the life of Liz (Theresa Russell, no relation), that good old hooker with a heart of gold. Pretty Woman, however, this is most certainly not.

Instead, this sordid life story unfolds via a humourless and, frankly, risible monologue to camera, loaded with well-thumbed philosophising on sexual politics (“Men don’t want sex, they want revenge”) and punctuated by a series of unpleasant flashbacks, from a particularly gruesome gang rape to the ex-husband who throws up all over that diligently-prepared evening meal.

Theresa Russell is obviously doing her level best to bring something — anything — to such a hollow character but is clearly up against it with such a seriously hackneyed story and a wardrobe mistress from hell who here kits her out in a series of flesh-oozing costumes that leave little to the imagination and quite a lot to be desired in the department of decency and good taste.

Ultimately, the only relief from this serious error of judgement is to play Spot-The-Cameo, with Huggy Bear (Fargas) turning up as a bum who walks on broken glass for no apparent reason, Twin Peaks’ Pete Martell (Jack Nance) as a passing good samaritan, and even Ken himself as a waiter in a restaurant for swanks. This aside, Whore is a film almost entirely bereft of merit.

Subtlety has never been Ken Russell’s strongest suit but even by his own over-the-top standards, Whore lays on the sleaze and tiresome moralising with a trowel.