Marianne Faithful lends a helping hand

It’s a rare leading role for Marianne Faithful as Maggie, a widow desperate for cash to pay for treatment for her severely ill grandson. Unskilled and with no assets to her name, Maggie finds chasing employment to be a lost cause. When she spies an advert in a club looking for a hostess, she’s naïve enough to investigate. Maggie soon becomes Irina Palm, Soho’s leading purveyor of glory hole relief.

Although the film’s central conceit is bleak, the tone isn’t one that preaches the evils of the sex industry in a social realist sense. The focus is on Maggie’s late life transformation. Although initially disgusted by the sordidness of the work, her generous sacrifice builds independence. But it’s complicated too; from the revulsion of her son to the curiosity of her respectable friends.

An unusual humour fluffs the storyline effectively and Garbarski captures the inimitable Soho atmosphere. But it’s Faithfull’s fantastic performance that makes Irina Palm deserving of your time.
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