The dreams of Javier Bardem and friends invigorated Fernando León de Aranoa’s last, the unemployment drama ‘Mondays in the Sun’ that triumphed in Spain’s Oscars, the Goyas, and his latest repeats the approach with a different social problem – prostitution. Caye (Peña – ‘All About My Mother’) is a Madrid streetwalker who hides her profession from her family; she befriends Zulema (Nevárez), an illegal immigrant with a five-year-old son back home in the Dominican Republic, after she finds her badly beaten by a client. Both harbour hopes of a normal existence. Like a hooker on too-high heels, ‘Princesses’ is wobbly, tottering from the nasty realities of racism, violence, poverty and disease into more lyrical territory, and some contrived plotting and out-of-place philosophising. But it’s kept upright by the naturalism of the two fine, Goya-winning, central performances – Peña’s in particular. Prostitution’s grey legal status in Spain has allowed it to thrive and the film ducks a few issues (Why is middle-class Caye a callgirl? Where are the pimps?), but it’s compelling, frequently funny and, commendably, resists wrapping things up sentimentally. Nice Manu Chao soundtrack, too.