You Need to Watch "Portrait of A Call Girl"

September 9, 2011 | Posted in Hardcore by gram-ponante

You Need to Watch "Portrait of A Call Girl"You know that elusive "mainstream movie that happens to have sex in it" Holy Grail of porn companies? "Portrait of A Call Girl" gets it. Jessie Andrews is wonderful in a movie that Elegant Angel should be proud of.

Portrait of A Call Girl

Studio: Elegant Angel
Director: Graham Travis
Starring: Jessie Andrews, Manuel Ferrara, Mick Blue, Ramon Nomar, Alex Gonz, Alec Knight, Darla Crane, Zoey Holloway, Bill Bailey, Jay Crew, Danny Mountain, Eric John Alan Stafford, Eric Swiss

Review by: Gram Ponante

Elle (Jessie Andrews) is a baby-faced hooker with a past. As written and directed by longtime Elegant Angel employee Graham Travis, Elle's character is soft-spoken without being coy and evasive, and tormented without relying on it as an excuse for her own bad behavior.

Elle is indeed running from something; a broken home with a wicked stepfather (the typecast Eric Swiss), a blowsy mom, and a lifelong education in manipulating men. When she finally takes off, she makes her way to Los Angeles, where she begins therapy, apparently, the same week she gets a job as a hooker.

"Portrait of A Call Girl" is rich with detail, from the radio chatter in her driver's car (higher-tier escorts need drivers) to other bits of business, like glimpses of her bank statement and the notebook she keeps to list her encounters. We see how she dresses when she's not working (only a little slutty, but it's what she knows), and follow her into a movie theatre, where she enjoys a matinee on her own.

Elle chats with and gets advice from other hookers-how to deal with cops, for example-and we see why, considering the subtle judgment she receives from civilian women, she chooses to keep her occupation a secret from her friends.

As Elle, Jessie Andrews is outstanding. She doesn't do a single porny thing. The low affect with which she delivers her lines is not because the actress doesn't understand them, but because the character is just a little dead inside. When we flash back to scenes of how she came to be here ("I'd show him how unlovable I really was"), we see subtle changes in demeanor; she grows more self-aware from one encounter to the next.

Throughout the movie, Elle's viewpoint on her work remains ambiguous. She tells her therapist that she doesn't know if she'll continue to be a call girl; she's just figuring things out.

But what about the sex? Well, each client tells a story, too.

Elle meets an aloof businessman (Manuel Ferrara) who requests some roleplay. She must dress in leather gloves and thigh-high boots (it's about 20 minutes into the movie before we see Andrews naked, and the wait is worth it) and interrupt his work, after which he must punish her. Then she is double-teamed by a couple of rich douchebags (who, I'll admit it, adorably fall asleep on either side of her), she gently resists the offer of a sad-sack married client (Jay Crew) to take care of her ("It's funny," she says to him, "all the guys that I see; they try to be what I want them to be"), and then she has a masked and blindfolded gangbang, later going out on a wholesome date with one of the gangbang squad.

Another point in the movie's favor is that we get to see the humanity of her clients and their effect on her. How rare is that in a business that is all about transactions? (Or is it wishful thinking in a business where men make money from women but still wish to be thought of as human?)

All the while, we watch Elle slowly connect to the world through a subtle series of moments; she witnesses a beating in an alley, and shares a non-sexual understanding with both the perpetrator and the victim.

I asked director Travis why his movie was about a call girl and not a porn star. Aren't those worlds similar enough?

"She's very isolated," Travis says, "and that fits better with being a call girl. Plus all the cinematic potential of the city at night and a criminal element to it. I think there's a lot of other things involved in porn that might have complicated the narrative."

And this makes sense. Basically, Elle is lonely, and there is an element of solitude in that branch of sex work-a lonely journey that happens to involve other people. As an escort, Elle controls outcomes in ways that weren't available before and, if she doesn't come to any conclusions, she gets a lot closer.

Does every actor hit his mark all the time? No. Is Elle's voiceover occasionally precious? Yes (I would perform a "Blad Runner" on the voiceover if I could). But this movie is one to be proud of, and Travis directs the cast to their best work.

Thoughtfully acted, beautifully shot, and sparsely, elegantly orchestrated, "Portrait of A Call Girl" is my favorite porn movie in a long time. Unlike 98 percent of porn out there, it is worth owning and keeping.

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Tagged in: archived reviews , dvd , elegant angel , eric swiss , gangbang , jay crew , jessie andrews , manuel ferrara , prostitution , review ,

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