Working Girls

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This film takes us inside of Manhattan’s more upscale adult establishments, where women are paid very well and men go to fulfill their fantasies. In other words, this is a whore house and within its walls are a number of beautiful women, whose bodies are always up for sale. The girls that work within this brothel are not the usual hookers by any means, as each comes from a background that you might not expect, but nonetheless, they’ve all ended up here anyway. Mary (Helen Nicholas) wasn’t sure what she was getting into, but still works for the place, while Gina (Marusia Zach) wants to earn enough cash to start her own business, a private beauty salon. Molly (Louise Smith) has an Ivy League degree under her belt, but if that wasn’t enough, she also happens to be a lesbian. Each worker inside this brothel has a story to tell and of course, they have new ones to tell each other every day, as they encounter unusual clients. The girls have to service men of all kinds and they’re paid well enough, but what will their work cost them once all is said and done?

I’ve seen a lot of movies about prostitution, but few have taken on the topic with such a sense of realism. The film avoids the sappy “hooker with a heart of gold” premise that plagues movies like Pretty Woman, instead showing us normal women in a very unusual profession. So if you want a light comedy, then Working Girls is not the film you’ll want to choose this time around. There are some comedic moments in the film of course, but this by no means a comedy by definition. Unlike most films that deal with this subject matter, this one doesn’t make it seem glamorous or erotic, much the opposite I think. There is sex of course, but it seems more business than pleasure, to say the least. So if you want an erotic take on hookers and their lives, Working Girls would not be a good choice. I find this to be a character study of sorts, as it looks at several of the girls and allows a peek inside their lives, very interesting indeed. The case says director Lizzie Borden spent a lot of time talking with real prostitutes and I think that shows, as the film seems to have a much more realistic take on the material than most movies. This is an above average film in all respects and as such, I am giving Working Girls a strong recommendation as either a rental or purchase. And if you do pick up this disc, make sure to spin the included commentary track, very cool indeed.

As I mentioned above, Lizzie Borden researched the subject matter and interviewed many real life prostitutes, which I think gives the film a sharp edge. Borden served as writer and director on Working Girls and I have to say, I think she excels within both tasks here. In terms of writing, she keeps things very realistic and develops some terrific characters, not the usual folks you’d expect to see in the profession, to be sure. Her use of upscale women adds a lot to the picture, as it shows that not just poor, lower class ladies take to the streets in this fashion. She allows her characters to open up and come across in fine form, which is vital, as we can then see how their work effects them as people, if at all. I’ve always been impressed with Borden’s work here and of course, that held up through this newest edition of the film. The cast of Working Girls includes Ellen McElduff (Maximum Overdrive, Living Out Loud), Marusia Zach, Amanda Goodwin (Beach Balls, Whore), Helen Nicholas, Janne Peters (Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, Shocker), Deborah Banks, and Louise Smith (Against The Innocent, First and Last).

Video: How does it look?

Working Girls is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This presentation is better than previous editions, but still lacks the refinement we’ve come to expect. This was a low budget film however, so the grain and poor film stock is expected and hard to prevent, even in a new transfer like this one. The grain does lessen the impact of the colors and contrast, but enough to knock the score much more than a shade. I do wish this film could be sharper, but the flaws are due to the source materials, not this new transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

I can’t report much on this end, as the included mono track is basic, but seems to handle the task well enough. Of course mono doesn’t allow for much range, but this movie doesn’t need much anyway and in the end, I was never let down by this option. There’s much in terms of sound effects to discuss, while the musical score seems in fine form, no problems there. The real focus seems to be on the dialogue and it sounds terrific here, very crisp and with no volume flaws I could detect. This isn’t the most dynamic track out there, but it more than gets the job done, which is what counts in the end, right?

Supplements: What are the extras?

The main draw here is an audio commentary track, which features writer/director Lizzie Borden, director of photography, and star Amanda Goodwin. Although this wasn’t one of the best tracks I’ve heard lately, it was a pretty good one and had plenty of information. Borden talks more than the others, but all three ladies chime in at times and I think the track is well balanced, as far as information and entertainment. This disc also includes the film’s theatrical trailer, which I think is one of the cooler trailers you’ll see.

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