Whore (1991 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Whore is a 1991 film by British director and screenwriter Ken Russell, starring actress Theresa Russell. While not a financial success grossing only $1,008,404, the film did attract some positive notices, and generated an unrelated sequel.

Plot summary

Liz (Russell) is a Los Angeles prostitute the audience first sees attempting to get a customer on a busy downtown street near a tunnel. She addresses the audience directly on her life and problems throughout the film. When a van stops by, she gives it the brush off, recalling the last time she serviced a man in a van: it turned out there were several other men in the van, who gang-raped her and left her for dead. A passer-by (Jack Nance) helps her to the hospital, and even pays her bill there. She sends him a thank you note.

Liz isn't merely attempting to get a customer, however: she is attempting to escape her pimp, Blake (Benjamin Mouton). Blake is a well-dressed, businesslike and extremely controlling man who catches up with her at a convenience store. He demands money, and Liz has no choice but to agree — though she gives him the finger as he leaves.

As Liz stops off at a strip club for a drink, she explains how she ended up as she did: she was a small town girl, who married a violent drunk named Charlie (Frank Smith). Though they have a child together, she can no longer take it and leaves him, taking her son with her, as he's sleeping it off. She takes a job on the graveyard shift at a diner, and when a customer offers her more money to have sex with him, she decides, given her rather low pay, to take it. She does this independently for a time until she meets Blake, who takes her to LA. Though Blake does do some things for her (including getting her tattooed), he is ultimately as cruel as her husband, so she decides to escape from him.

A local homeless person / street performer named Rasta (Antonio Fargas) decides to treat Liz to a movie. Though Rasta is a bit scary (his act involves walking on broken glass), Liz agrees. At this point the scenes of Liz and Rasta at the movie are intercut with Blake explaining his life to the audience, giving the impression that Liz and Rasta are watching Blake's soliloquy.

After the movie, Liz talks to the audience about her son, whom she clearly loves, though he's now in foster care. She finally gets a customer and services him. He has a heart attack, and Liz panics, trying to give him mouth to mouth resuscitation, without success. Blake happens along then. He takes Liz's money and tries to rob the dead customer. When Liz tries to stop him, Blake tries to strangle Liz and threatens her son. Rasta comes to the rescue, killing Blake. A grateful Liz gives her thanks and walks away.

Production details

Lacking large studio support, the film was produced and distributed by Trimark Pictures. The film's small shooting budget is reflected in the choppy editing and production value. Presumably to save on crew expenses, Ken Russell is listed as camera operator in production credits (under the name Alf). The original play on which the film was based was written by a London taxi driver, who based it on a conversation with a local prostitute he drove. Russell adapted the play to the screen as an answer to the film Pretty Woman released at around that same time.

The film was in limited distribution in U.S. movie houses, mainly due to it having received the dreaded NC-17 rating by the MPAA, did not achieve critical acclaim, and quickly moved into pay-per-view and VHS release.

In addition to its regular video release, Whore was also released on video with the title If You Can't Say It... Just See It. An unrelated direct-to-video sequel, Whore II, was released three years later in 1994, written and directed by Amos Kollek. Coincidentally, a clip from Kollek's earlier film, High Stakes, is seen in the film.

The film is rated R18 in New Zealand where it is rated R16 for the television rating.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Whore (1991 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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