Intense but relentlessly downbeat peek at a teen hooker
Tony Marsiglia is best-known for his Misty Mundae soft porn videos, but with SUZIE HEARTLESS he drops the arousal content in favor of dead-serious, anti-entertainment in what used to be called the "kitchen sink" school (back when British cinema was in flower). I couldn't get much involved in the piece or matching up to Marsiglia's particular wave length, but admire his chutzpah.
Eschewing dialog, he concentrates on the horrible existence of the title character, well-played monotonously (as per the auteur's instructions) by Wendy McColm. Glum and miserable, barely changing her expression for 90 minutes on screen, Wendy is hardly "showcased" here. Given her having several comedy credits I would certainly like to see her in something where she could lighten up. (And I'm actually a fan of morbid, negative cinema -Tom Courtenay in ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH remains among my all-time favorite performances.)
Format is to wallow in Suzie's particular gutter, as she lives in a corner of a tiny storage space with her mangy cat; abused by a variety of male and female clients, notably a heavily tattooed butch lesbian in one of the film's more harrowing scenes.
Marsiglia walks a fine line between maintaining his serious approach and lapsing into the (soft) porn tropes of his previous videos. He liberally injects shock effects including Suzie vomiting on the face of a creep she's riding sexually; a busty and beautiful whore who traipses into the picture twice just to sit photogenically on a couch next to Suzie as catatonic eye candy; and Suzie's cat eating the corpse of a friend and fellow prostitute who's been murdered by a john.
This victim, fed to the cat, is played by Andrea Davis in a bright spot in the otherwise hard-to-take video. Always beautiful, she had several soft porn assignments for Marsiglia, including the highly erotic focusing on her huge, stubby nipples in his DR. JEKYLL AND MISTRESS HYDE offering, and is strong here, too. Her real-life daughter portrays a fantasy version of Suzie as a child in mainly black-and-white sequences interspersed throughout the video, and though the age differential is not believable, she's the mother of Suzie's character.
An awkwardly directed and unconvincing climax comes about in Suzie finding out one of her johns, a violent and abusive one (like most) is actually her dad, who commits suicide. I found this piling of misfortune on the poor, bedraggled character way over the limit, but Marsiglia was obviously bent on (he succeeded) creating a downer that would out-down his previous work.
The use of hand-held camera (Marsiglia in his commentary explains the reason for this) and overly frenetic editing in of the kiddie flashbacks prevented my getting too involved in this story. Absence of dialog was refreshing, but the grimness and ugliness proved counter-productive: too much of a bad thing.
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