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1 item from 2000

Film review: 'Stella Does Tricks' 'Tricks': Nothing We Haven't Seen Before / Kelly MacDonald walks the streets of cliche in portrait of a prostitute

22 February 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Coky Giedroyc's debut feature about a homeless teenage hooker working the streets of London doesn't exactly tread unfamiliar ground. Among the revelations of "Stella Does Tricks" are: Prostitution is demeaning and dehumanizing; pimps can be cruel and abusive; childhood sexual abuse can leave damage; and men in general aren't much to write home about.

As the title character, Kelly MacDonald ("Trainspotting") offers a well-modulated, compelling performance, but the film, despite a few imaginative flourishes, is mainly a solemn compendium of cliches. Previously showcased at the Toronto and Sundance festivals, it is playing an exclusive theatrical engagement at the Screening Room.

Stella, originally from Glasgow, works the streets for the repulsive Mr. Peters (James Bolam), a heavy-set, middle-aged pimp who likes to receive manual manipulation from his charges in public places, a habit that ultimately leads to his undoing. The film charts Stella's precarious existence, interspersing flashbacks to her troubled childhood and surreal fantasy revenge sequences, some of which she turns into reality. At one point, she manages to evade Mr. Peters' clutches, finds a job at a flower stall and takes up with a cute junkie, Eddie (Hans Matheson), but his drug habit eventually leads him to betray her.

Although the film effectively conveys the seediness of Stella's lifestyle and the constant humiliations she's forced to endure, it is less effective as a psychological portrait, and its frequent shifts between reality and fantasy feel forced. Like many other recent British films ("The War Zone", etc.), it mistakes unrelenting grimness for profundity.


Strand Releasing

Credits: Director: Coky Giedroyc; Screenwriter: Alison Kennedy; Producer: Adam Barker; Co-producer: Angus Lamont; Executive producer: Ben Gibson; Director of photography: Barry Ackroyd; Editor: Budge Tremlett; Production designer: Lynne Whiteread; Composer: Nick Bicat. Cast: Stella: Kelly MacDonald; Mr. Peters: James Bolam; Eddie: Hans Matheson; McGuire: Ewan Stewart; Fitz: Andy Serkis. No MPAA rating. Color/stereo Running time -- 97 minutes.


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