Maggie, a 50-year-old widow, desperately needs some money to pay for a medical treatment for her ill grandson. After one attempt at trying to find a job, Maggie finds herself roaming the ... See full summary »
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
Maggie, a 50-year-old widow, desperately needs some money to pay for a medical treatment for her ill grandson. After one attempt at trying to find a job, Maggie finds herself roaming the streets of London Soho. Her eye is caught by a small poster in the window of a 'shop' called "Sexy World" which reads: "Hostess wanted". Too desperate and lost to realize what she does she enters. Micky, the owner, is embarrassed at first, but intrigued by Maggie, he decides to have fun and offers her the job. Maggie courageously gets to know her first anonymous customers, eventually using Irina Palm as her stage name. Maggie, who applies herself in order to keep her job, fascinates Mickey. Written by
When Maggie enters the office of Miki to accept the job, he's seen playing a videogame. The game music is from Super Mario, and when he raises his eyes to look at Maggie, the death sound is heard. See more »
When Maggie is reading the letter from the bank, rejecting her request for a loan, the letter clearly addresses her as 'Mr'. See more »
IRINA PALM may be a film too many people will overlook, thinking it either empty headed or pornographic. But word of mouth should correct those misconceptions, as this little quiet film is a tender story of an aging woman's sacrifices and healthy outlook in the face of adversity. IRINA PALM is that happy marriage of comedy and drama, a heartwarming tale that leaves the viewer with both a smile and a tear.
Written by Director Sam Garbarski with Martin Herron and Phillipe Blasband, IRINA PALM is the story of a widowed grandmother Maggie (Marianne Faithful in a luminous performance) whose young grandson Ollie (Corey Burke) is gravely ill. Maggie's son Tom (Kevin Bishop) and daughter-in-law Sarah (Siobhan Hewlett) cannot afford the transfer from England to Australia where the young lad could undergo curative treatment. Maggie decides she must find a job - a daunting task for an older woman with no particular job training - to make the treatment affordable. After numerous rejections from employment agencies, she spies a Sex Shop advertising for 'hostesses'. Thinking that designation means serving tea, etc, she enters the shady establishment and is interviewed by the owner Miki (Miki Manojlovic), a gentle man who gently describes the type of employment: Maggie would sit in a room and provide simple masturbation through a glory hole for anonymous clients. At first shocked by the job description, she in desperation investigates the business with the help of her soon to be best friend Luisa (Dorka Gryllus), and accepts the job with reservations. To her surprise (and the surprise of Miki and Luisa) Maggie gains a loyal following of customers, so much so that she is given the name 'Irina Palm'.
Keeping her employment a secret from everyone, she is the brunt of gossip from her old cronies and when she gives the money from her job to her son Tom without revealing its source, she causes a riff in the family. Maggie is courted by other sex shop owners who offer higher pay, but she remains faithful to Miki who advanced her the money for Ollie's trip to Australia. Tom stalks his mother to her workplace, discovers the source of her income, and explodes with anger and embarrassment that his mother would stoop to such depths. But Maggie's role as Irina Palm has given her confidence and also opened her heart not only to her grandson's future but to her own happiness as well. The ending may be expected by some, but will warm the hearts of everyone.
There are many moments of humor - Maggie's learning her trade, her ultimate confession to her cronies as to her occupation, etc - and this lightness makes the dramatic message more powerful. Faithful is extraordinarily fine in this difficult role, but the entire cast is sensitively responsive to the screenplay and to director Garbarski's vision. This is a film to cherish. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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