Irina Palm

Sexual debasement is the price of social normality in the London-set ‘Irina Palm’, which blends a queasy hybrid of austere suburban realism, bawdy comedy and sentimental kitchen-sink fluff, as a priggish, middle-aged widow named Maggie (Marianne Faithful) is forced to accept a job in a Soho establishment called ‘Sexy World’. There, she is confined to a dimly lit parlour into which a string of balding, sweaty men introduce their penises (through a nifty hole in the wall) and she, well, wanks them off.

It is due to her abnormally soft hands that she is eventually branded Irina Palm. Naturally, all of this is to cover the medical fees for her doe-eyed grandson who has recently contracted a rare (unnamed) disease which requires him to be flown to Australia for treatment.

Sam Garbarski’s tonally awkward and lazily written film represents the sex industry as both a ruthless corporate entity (the ‘product’ that Maggie offers is of such high standard that one of her less-skilled co-workers is fired) and a place that can stimulate a sense of empowerment and control from its employees (she merrily fills her booth with flowers and hangs pictures from the wall).

However, these feel like cynical, ill-developed observations that come at the detriment of any realistic character development or proper discussion  about the role of older people in today’s service industry-led employment climate. Still, Faithful is a joy to behold, her subtly expressive, yet commanding presence single-handedly distracts from the miasma of cliché that constantly threatens to engulf her.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday June 13 2008
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Sam Garbarski
Cast: Kevin Bishop
Miki Manojlovic
Marianne Faithfull
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