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The Weird and Wild World of Ken Russell: An interesting retort to "Pretty Woman".
Captain_Couth6 July 2004
Whore (1991) was Ken Russell's take upon the life of a prostitute. You can call this the real "Pretty Woman". I enjoyed this movie very much because of the gritty realism Mr. Russell uses in this one. Theresa Russell is excellent as the "whore" who gives us an insider's view of the world of low-class prostitution. It's no the glamorous life as most of the women who fall prey to "the oldest profession". Women so desperate to make a living turn to an easy way of making quick cash. Many of them are strung out on drugs, milked for every cent by their pimps or wind up in jail. Too bad this movie is all but forgotten. Whilst movies like "Pretty Woman" show us the bright side of prostitution, "Whore" shows us it's true dark self.

I found this movie to be very interesting. It took a lot of courage for Mr. Russell to make such an non-commercial film. If it were available on D.V.D. it would be a part of my collection. Maybe one day it'll get it's due. Followed by an unrelated sequel.

Highly recommended.

Check out Ken Russell's bit role as the high class waiter.
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A Fine Line between Failure and Success
VerhoHo28 March 1999
"Whore" is , appropriately, a cartoonish response to "Pretty Woman". The cartoonish, satirical bent the film has (in the face of its horrific situations) is exactly what makes it so brilliant. What was so awful about "Pretty Woman" was the commodification of prostitution as something glamorous, fulfilling and rewarding; pablum to be swallowed by American masses. "Whore"'s success depends less on the performances and direction and more on the viewer's willingness to think. The ideology that Ken Russell has placed on the material is unmistakable and renders everything else about the film meaningless. It really comes down to the viewer--If you are intelligent enough as a viewer to read the subtext, you either agree with it or you don't. Personally, I love everything about it, from Teresa Russell's sarcastic, bombastic, career-wrecking performance to the simple joy of seeing Antonio Fargas on screen again, "Whore" is a great, intelligent film worth repeated viewings. The real tragedy is that this will be Ken Russell's last great film. He has lived long enough to see his wonderful style get railroaded into soft-core porn and made-for-cable sci-fi. The world would be a better place if he had been bestowed with the same luck as Paul Verhoeven.
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The Tough Life of a Whore
claudio_carvalho23 January 2015
The prostitute Liz (Theresa Russell) works on the streets of Los Angeles. She recalls her life in flashback, when she marries an alcoholic man. She leaves him with their son. Then she works as waitress in a diner until the day a man introduces her to prostitution. Later she is raped by at least five men and the pimp Blake (Benjamin Mouton) "protects" her. Liz tries to escape from Blake and befriends the prostitute Katie (Elizabeth Morehead); however Blake chases her. On the streets, she befriends the homeless Rasta (Antonio Fargas) that helps her when she needs.

"Whore" is a docudrama by Ken Russell that shows the tough life of a whore. The hot Theresa Russell is a perfect choice for the role of Liz, talking to the camera to explain her life and feelings and analyzing the type of men that is client of a whore. I saw this movie for the first time in the 90's and in 2015 it has not aged. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "A Prostituta" ("The Prostitute")
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"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do..."
moonspinner558 August 2006
Ken Russell's "Whore" begins with an amusing shot of cars driving through a tunnel (R-rated Freudianism?) coupled with a Jamaican rap on the soundtrack about doing the "boom boom" with girls. Russell, who directed the film and co-adapted the screenplay from David Hines' play, is highly adept at quirky bits of business--blending hammy, outré comedy with blunt-force dramatics--but with "Whore", his mix of in-your-face, sexually-comedic bits and pieces are not always compatible bedmates next to the violence or the introspective moments. Theresa Russell plays Liz, a streetwise hooker full of bravado; often addressing the camera directly, Theresa speaks with an odd swagger in her voice (as if she's channeling someone standing beside her). Striking amazing poses--like Lolita all grown up--Theresa Russell has some choice moments (usually when she's not speaking, as with a silent come-on to a guy who turns out to be gay), but she is not a vulgar, cartoony actress and is too refined to be slutty. Her performance continually improves, however it isn't in the actress's nature to talk tough like a lady truck-driver. There are well-wrought sequences (such as when Russell's friendship with a possible lesbian is interrupted by a vicious pimp, an incredible moment done without principle dialogue), but the film isn't very sexy. Those looking for a raucous good time will be disappointed (can you imagine how that inelegant title looked on the movie theater marquees?), and those hoping for a serious take on the prostitution business probably won't stick around past the first hour. Many scenes simply fall flat, yet "Whore" is a mixed-bag; it's not a deep-thinker, it's not exceptionally revealing, but it leaves an impression behind, along with some giggles, some embarrassment, and some sadness. ** from ****
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"Whore" is the real-deal (in the unrated-cut)
myboigie22 January 2005
The comments on this film are pretty amusing, I just hope Mr. Russell has seen a few of them, as it would probably tickle him to-no-end. Come on, people, this is the real deal here, and these are a lot of the realities of prostitution. It isn't pretty, is it? How much value is attached to the life of a prostitute? Ask the King County sheriff's Department and the Seattle Police, they allowed the Green River killer to run-riot for 20+ years.

I consider this a pretty pure film for Ken Russell, and a pretty compassionate statement FOR the victims of prostitution. Legalization is (wisely) advocated, and we even get a few of the arguments (from the pimp himself) what some of the drawbacks would be. Prostitution is illegal for means of social control, period. Watch this film, and you will understand that Mr. Russell is a GENUINE Christian with a heart--after all, Jesus consorted with such people, didn't he? They need our help and our compassion, which is the main-theme of the film.

Of course, Ken Russell also enjoys the inherent bawdiness of the material-at-hand, or he wouldn't be Ken Russell! The dialog is a dream, and David Mamet's plays/screenplays would be a good analogy. It's also clear that a lot of the dialog came from real prostitutes and their stories. While some have commented on the low-budget look of the film, I don't think that this is accurate. It looks pretty slick cinematography-wise, and the acting by Theresa Russell (no-relation to the writer/director) is astonishing. She is easily one of the greatest actresses of her generation. She's also incredibly powerful in projecting her sexuality as an actor, which is pretty rare.Only Kathleen Turner stands as her equal.

So, if you enjoyed "Crimes of Passion" nearly as much as I did (a masterpiece), this will be a wonderful companion-film for you, dear viewers. You either love or hate Ken Russell, and he has always been my favorite form of a high-stress personality endurance-test. Most tend to fail this test, but it takes all-kinds, doesn't it? Once it hits DVD, it will finally be able to be fully-assessed. That it shines so brightly on my (unrated)VHS-copy is testament to its brilliance, and the genius of Ken Russell. A message to be heeded on the "world's oldest-profession." Puritans, take-heed. It shouldn't be a problem to say it. Give this man money to make another film!
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Theresa Russell was way too glamorous looking!
emo_ville200223 July 2006
I really enjoyed this film because of the acting of Ms.Russell. Though all the characters were painted with the usual overly broad strokes.

The only problem I basically had with this film, was that Ms. Russell's character was much too glamorous to be a *street whore*.

Her skin and make-up were flawless, she had nice teeth etc.. It sounds silly, but I notice these things when watching films. That was the most un-authentic part of this film, noticing how perfect she looked.

From viewing documentaries depicting real life prostitutes (HBO's series about hookers in the Bronx, those women were rough....missing teeth, barely literate etc) and other movies depicting the horrors of prostitution, we all know they usually don't look as good as Ms. Russell does in this film....unless they are call girls. Call girls aren't as abused as street hookers, they usually have a decent and comfortable place to be with their clients.

Most street whores have drug problems, even if they don't, that rough 'street life' certainly takes a toll on ones looks. I saw none of that in Theresa's character. She looked young and vibrant!

Nevertheless, she gave a great performance given the below par script she was given to work with.

I also enjoyed the 'Alfie' speaking-into-the-camera style and the anti-"Pretty Woman" message. Anyone who thinks prostitution is in any way 'glamourous', well, they need to read a bit more about the seedy demeaning aspects of that life. Then go back to school to get a decent education, so they can get a normal job. There are no free rides, pardon the pun, in that world.

Good performances all around. Though it would have been nice to see Antonio Vargas play a different character other than a wacky street person, at least he wasn't a pimp!
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You'll be laughing your ass off at this Ken Russell Gem!!!
meddlecore27 January 2011
"Whore" is a fantastic movie by Ken Russell (dir. of Altered States, Crimes of Passion) that is absolutely hysterical from start to finish. The film is shot in a pseudo-documentary style, in which we find ourselves taking on the perspective of a film crew that is following around a prostitute on the lamb (Theresa Russell). She bares all for the camera, telling her stories, revealing both the humorous and the frightening aspects of life as a hooker. From putting up with the local quacks, to having guys want to f**k her in the ass and dominate them, to saving her troubled colleagues and putting up with her idiotic pimp..this movie has it all...and it will have you laughing your ass off. It shows how life as a whore can be tough and that you have to be careful about who you choose as your friends in "the oldest profession on earth." This is another winner by Ken Russell that cant be missed by any of his fans. 10 out of 10.
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Sex sells....
mcfly-312 January 2008
Russell's often cited, perfect retort to "Pretty Woman" deals with a Los Angeles streetwalker and her myriad of seedy misadventures as a woman of the night...and day. Based from a stage play, it pretty much works like that, but basically set outdoors.

Russell (Theresa, that is), directs monologues at the camera in between interaction with various figures in her life. Be it her Brooks Brothers pimp (who looks more like a yuppie banker) or a pair of dopey foreigners she co-mingles with. Odd that Russell (the director) would choose not one, but two men of far-away descent for the female Russell to play off of. The first being what seems to be a Jamaican (though played by African-American actor Fargas) for midnight chats, and a clichéd Arab who says cutesy things like "Will you be doing it without a rubber thing?".

Russell's story darts about in different fashions, from flashbacks to in-the-moment pick-ups from customers. At one point director Russell even cuts to the pimp cruising the streets and waxing philosophical to the camera as well. Those expecting something gratuitous to munch popcorn to need to look elsewhere. Whoring is not glamorized here, with gang rapes, slashed hookers, and hateful tricks full of salty language. Once in a while (director) Russell lightens things up with throwaway gags (no pun) including a comical caning and a shoe-fetish nutbar who even comes with a small script.

Physically, Russell is an effective choice for Liz, perhaps a little too pretty, but does sport a big butt and a few extra pounds. What distracts more is Russell's exceedingly uneven performance, one of the more mixed I've ever seen. Crossing an Elvira voice with a jr. high intellect, she captures your attention, though not always winningly. Part of the problem is the all-too-apparent dubbing of her voice for the street scenes. In order to remove the horns and whooshing of cars, her re-reading of lines is sometimes painful to listen to. Her quieter moments of pre-prostitution life work better, she being portrayed more as innocent and naive. Along with those scenes being shot indoors.

The film sometimes lapses into inappropriate satire or bawdiness, then will slug you with broken fingers and slashed throats. It doesn't always work, but holds your attention. Sort of a reworking of Russell's far superior 1984 work, "Crimes of Passion", with the same wise-assed hooker approach. Though that film was more straight-forward, and a had a three-character triangle of obsession, marital commentary, and redemption. Here the femme Russell is pretty much by herself, leading a more one-note lifestyle. Seek out "Crimes" for the better movie; seek out "Whore" for a gritty reality check.
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Low budget hurts
preppy-310 January 2007
A prostitute named Liz (Theresa Russell) relates her life and times to the viewer. She's running away from her vicious pimp (Benjamin Mouton) who wants to kill her. Rasta (Antonio Fargas) pops up from time to time to inexplicably help her.

This was made in response to "Pretty Woman" (which actually made prostitution look glamorous). Director Ken Russell had trouble getting funding for this--no actress would take the role and the title alone scared away investors. Finally Theresa Russell (no relation) agreed to do it but he still had trouble getting funds. The movie was cheaply made and it shows in some of the sets. It also prevents Russell from any overindulgences (which are usually the highlights of his films). It comes off, cinematically, kind of muted.

The acting carries this. Theresa is a great actress--she pulls off the role showing the humor and pain in equal doses. Also she has quite a few long monologues which she pulls off without a hitch. Mouton is also good as her slimy pimp and it's always good to see Fargas in anything (although his character makes no sense).

The screenplay is great--it doesn't shy away from any of the realities of prostitution and is quite graphic. Nothing is really shown but the descriptions and sounds make it quite clear what's going on. It does fall apart at the end leaving a conclusion that was totally unbelievable. Some posters have complained that Russell is too glamorous to be a prostitute. That's true--but who wants to watch a movie with a real prostitute who aren't exactly attractive and are in terrible shape? Also there are a few cute references to earlier Russell films here--one movie theatre is playing "Lair of the White Worm" and another is playing a porno film starring China Blue (the character Kathleen Turner played in his "Crimes of Passion").

I saw this originally in 1991 in a theatre in it's NC-17 version. The one I saw on cable was R rated and dreadfully edited. The cuts are obvious and in one stupid moment a word is bleeped out (????). It still works as an R rated but try to find the uncut version. Good movie but the low budget hurts.
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Good Film!
newnoir28 September 2000
This is based on a British stage play and has been adapted to an American setting. The critics hated this flick but I thought it was great. It's not for everyone but I found it to be a good character study with humor, sex, and all the other elements of fun sleaze that make a Ken Russell film so much raunchy fun. I like the character of Rasta and I haven't liked Ms. Russell in another movie before or since. Porn star Ginger Lynn Allen does a cameo as does cult actor Jack Nance. Go see 'Whore'. Even if you can't say it.
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fascinating but not successful
SnoopyStyle26 April 2015
Uneducated prostitute Liz (Theresa Russell) works the L.A. streets. She is beaten up by one bad trick. She recalls various Johns. She married the local alcoholic hunk. They have a son together. She leaves her drunken husband with her son to her mother. As a waitress, she is introduced to prostitution.

Breaking down the fourth wall is an interesting style. The constant unceasing nature does wear thin after awhile especially with Russell's voice in this character. This is more of a monologue. The minimalist style is more due to the lack of budget. Director Ken Russell considers this his anti-'Pretty Woman'. He has certainly drop kicked Pretty Woman and raped her from behind. It is a fascinating take but not a completely successful one.
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WHORE (Ken Russell, 1991) **1/2
Bunuel197613 December 2011
Although he continued to work profusely in the medium which gave him his start, this was the last proper theatrical film for Ken Russell until 2002's semi-amateurish THE FALL OF THE LOUSE OF USHER (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, did become his feature-length swan song for the silver screen); given its theatrical origins as a British play called "Bondage" – written by a former taxi driver and basing it on stories he was told by his own streetwalking customers! – it is not as visually stylized as the movies the director is most renowned – or vilified – for but he still opens it out somewhat by shooting it on location in Los Angeles Appropriately enough, it stars American actress Theresa Russell (no relation to the director) who, at the time of shooting, was married to Ken's chief rival for the title of the most visionary British film-maker of his era, Nicolas Roeg who, like Ken, had a penchant for turning pop idols into tentative and temporary film stars!

The seedy world of pimps, prostitutes and "tricks" is right up Ken's alley and one he had already visited more effectively 7 years previously in one of his most notorious films, CRIMES OF PASSION; tellingly, this more realistic treatment went by almost unnoticed. In fact, Theresa tells her story in flashback and often resorts to interacting with the audience (as it were) by directly speaking to the camera in lengthy monologues. Among the episodes in her past life that are depicted is a marriage to a boozing hunk (hilariously, he comes home one day, when she is almost at the end of her pregnancy and, despite her having diligently prepared his meal, he proceeds to puke into his salad bowl!); earlier on, the first 'client' she meets is a puking tramp lying on the pavement and then a colored, perennially barefooted street-performing masochist (played by Antonio Fargas from TV's STARSKY AND HUTCH) who becomes a recurring presence throughout the film…as does an Indian bike-rider who insists Theresa foregoes the 'rubber' if she agrees to take him on as a customer (which, naturally, doom his prospects)!

After much abuse suffered from plying her trade on the streets – getting gangbanged in a van and thanklessly dumped on the pavement, after which she is cared for by a kindly Jack Nance – she is 'tricked' {sic} (through the staging of a rescue from a would-be attempted rape inside a car) into employing a seemingly classy but sadistic thug as her pimp (Benjamin Mouton); he takes her out to an elegant dinner (served by an uncredited – and sarcastic – Ken Russell himself!) but, obviously, she is no 'fair lady' and proceeds to make an ass of him in front of the other diners. He soon pays her back with dividends by brutishly interrupting the temporary idyll with a friendly dyke into which she had eventually escaped. Like Kathleen Turner's character in CRIMES OF PASSION before her (incidentally, as an in-joke, a porn movie on the marquee is called "China Blue" – which had actually been the title under which that film was released in Italy!), "Liz" is also into servicing old men: one is a regular inside an old people's home – with a bunch of nearby resting residents as gleeful 'witnesses'; the other dies on the 'job' – at which point the pimp reappears...but so does Fargas who swiftly saves the day by slitting the latter's throat!

For the record, the most notable films to revolve exclusively around the milieu of prostitutes are most of Kenji Mizoguchi's films featuring downtrodden geishas, Federico Fellini's NIGHTS OF CABIRIA (1957), Jean-Luc Godard's VIVRE SA VIE (1962) and Luis Bunuel's BELLE DE JOUR (1967); this is not to say that WHORE in any way ever approaches their level of artistry but, one thing it certainly has that they do not is an amusingly crude and sexist Ska theme tune called "Doing The Bang" sung over the opening and closing credits by an anonymous band called Fascinating Force! By the way, for this viewing I again had to acquire at the very last minute a superior copy to the one I had originally owned (since the latter was evidently edited – running 78 minutes against its official length of 85) and, for what it is worth, the film is also available in one full segment on "You Tube"!
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Interesting hooker version of Alfie
frankiehudson12 May 2002
This is an excellent little film from the weirdo English director Ken Russell. Is that Huggy Bear at the beginning who keeps coming up to Liz (Theresa Russell)? Brilliant symbolism in the opening credits sequence, immediately establishing the theme of the film, though rather clichéd, as to be expected. Liz solicits just at the entrance to a giant dark road tunnel with a small hole at the end - an obvious metaphor really, with many potential customers just passing by in their cars but inevitably still ending up disappearing into the dark hole! Even the name of the film WHORE disappears into the hole, the large capitals becoming ever diminished as they disappear into the tunnel! The monologue, addressing the camera stuff, is, presumably, straight from Alfie, a film that Loach is probably quite familiar with. Perhaps the whole film is a woman's revenge on the misogynous Alfie (Michael Caine)! Good viewing.
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Not the best whore to see
videorama-759-85939127 June 2014
Whore kind of glamorizes prostitution, but with some scenes, we see the highs, but with others we see the lows. Theresa addresses us frequently throughout the film, amongst her scenes, even telling us about a chicken spot that's not so good. We have a few flashbacks, showing us at one stage, she was married, and you'll love how her low class husband, thanks her after a meal. This was one of a few scenes I just didn't buy, and too the drama, gives away to comedy. Set really over the course of a day and night, the film has her nasty pimp (Benjamin Moulton, a great underrated actor) chasing her down. In some flashbacks, we see the two, making out, or going to dinner, and like me, Russell doesn't approve of Sushi, either. Moulton, who has a little time too, addressing the audience, really brings an uncomfortable side to his pimp role, and in being nasty, it isn't overplayed or forced. Coincidentally, he starred in another R Rated film, Basic Instinct, with a minor role, which came out the same day. I really liked Russel's performance, who's star double which happens to be Kathleen Turner, reminded me a lot of the Turner prostitute role in Crimes Of Passion, where the tone and speed of the voice are much the same. Freaky too as Crimes Of Passion was done by the same director. Whore is not what I call good, but it's interesting, where the movie really shows a funny if farcical (and I use that word heavily) side to the oldest living profession.
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An interesting docudrama that I didn't care for but that was probebly more realistic then pretty woman.
triple811 February 2004
This is really more of a documentary then a film. I caught it on tv my accident and sat down to watch. I can't say I "liked" this-I have read some reviews and don't know how it could be regarded as a comedy-this is pretty intense stuff. It is a very unpleasant movie to watch and I didn't enjoy it. However I have to give the movie makers credit for making this as well as Teresa Russell for starring in it-I can't see this ever appealing to the masses but it was a mjaor example of quite the daring way of making movies. This tells of what prostitution is about in a way that's so different then Pretty Woman it makes Pretty woman seem laughable. Although I disliked this movie and thought parts of it could have been done better it sure is alot more realistic then Pretty Woman although most people don't even know of its existance.
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One of Russell's more watchable films.
fedor822 January 2007
Pretty much trash, with Ken Russell once again making a film that doesn't seem to belong to any particular genre. However, this particular Russell film is quite watchable and has some good scenes. There isn't much of a plot going on, but it's rather a collection of brief situations. There is always something going on, and it even makes for, sort of, laid-back viewing in spite of the content. Whereas in most of Russell's (early) films the actors spend 90% of their time flailing about with their arms and doing head-stands, and just generally being frantic, manic, and silly, there is none of that here - although Theresa Russell is rather animated throughout; but she acts like this to heighten the comedic effect, not to be annoying. There are some funny moments, and though she seems to be in nearly every shot of the picture one never tires of her. Apart from his movies, further proof that Russell has to be insane is his participation in Celebrity Big Brother.
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Russells' Last Good Film!
shepardjessica-114 December 2004
Ken Russell who made major films like WOMEN IN LOVE and THE DEVILS apparently burnt out by the time he got to TOMMY (bad ghoulash!!!), except for this sly, trembling, subtle and street piece with Theresa Russell (with able support from Jack Nance briefly) that bombed critically and ..duh..financially in the early 90's.

Totally under-rated and stylistic in a Bunuel sort of way, this walk down the boulevard..partly because of the casting of Ms. Russell (Nicholas Roeg's wife; still I believe), makes this almost realistic in David Lynch way without a million characters.

She talks to the audience (ala ALFIE) style, bad things happen, lonely Roy Orbison-type streets, and a crescendo that is totally unexpected. Ms. Russell is beyond the pale in this one and grabs you with silky, stuttering, and flexible grace as she draws you in to her tale of woe that you think you know the end to. . . . NOT! Find this one credible and bewildering piece of Americana and you may find a cul-de-sac to park it on.. if you like low-budget cool, hip, and demented cinema. Theresa Russell should have been nominated in '91, but you know how it goes. Oh well!
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In your face, Julia Roberts!
Coventry21 February 2008
Good old Ken Russell … The glorious days of "Savage Messiah" and "The Devils" were obviously long gone in the early 90's, but still he was always up for directing a controversial and provocative motion picture. I read in several articles and interviews that "Whore" was primarily intended as a harsh and confronting response to the Julia Roberts comedy "Pretty Woman"; which depicts prostitution as a carefree and happy happy joy joy profession. Of course everybody already knows that the job of a prostitute includes more than just sleeping with Richard Gere, but Russell nonetheless insisted on dedicating a full movie based on this reality lesson. "Whore" is one part gripping docudrama and one part clichéd venting, but the overall impression it leaves is a positive and lasting one. Theresa Russell is excellent as Liz and, since she speaks most of her monologues straight into a camera, the viewer becomes irreversibly involved in her daily routines of abuse, humiliation, danger, fear, indescribably odd fetishes and general bullying. Whilst on the constant lookout for her relentless pimp, Liz lectures about what she does and doesn't tolerate from customers, tells lovely anecdotes about her wackiest clients (like an elderly man who only gets off when she hits him with his own cane!) and openly mentions the rookie mistakes that gradually turned her into the nihilistic and cynic woman she is now. Multiple sequences are, unfortunately, dreadful clichés (like a failed marriage and the cute son Liz was forced to abandon) or just plain weird (the reoccurring meetings with the semi-spiritual Rasta guy). Strangely enough – but perhaps typical for Ken Russell – our director interlards the most involving moments of sincere human tenderness with revolting footage of the pimp also facing the camera and proudly talking about his spirit of enterprise and generally discriminating opinion on women. "Whore" tends to get a bit monotonous and repetitive, but thankfully it's not too long, and occasionally it too obviously shows the script is adapted from a stage play. And perhaps the biggest problem of the film might be that the subject matter actually TOO realistic to be a genuine Russell success formula. Those who're familiar with the man's repertoire know that he's at his absolute finest when adding grotesquely surreal plot material and visually imaginative gimmicks to a rudimentary concept. The everyday life of a prostitute simply doesn't lend itself to a lot of creative and artsy expanding, and for Russell this is definitely a shortcoming. Notwithstanding the brutal approach and rather repellent promotional elements (the blunt title, the tagline "This is no bedtime story"), "Whore" is a unique and compelling drama worth tracking down.
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Scarecrow-8825 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The night of confession for one "that walks" hooking while trying to dodge a homicidal pimp, Blake(Benjamin Mouton)who she wishes to abandon if he doesn't find & kill her first. Theresa Russell portrays Liz as bluntly honest, no-nonsense about her job and what comes with the territory of being a hooker. She seems a bit uneducated and a tad obnoxious, but, at the same time, you can't take your eyes of her because you never know what is about to come spewing out. Antonio Fargas portrays Rasta, a street denizen for whom becomes someone for Liz to lean on and eventually her protector as it seems Blake could kill her at any time. We see in one of several past vignettes explained to the camera(us;a device director uses to optimum effect..this will either be a charm or annoyance to the viewer)by Liz what violence can happen when an "employee" of his gets out of hand..a hooker gets her stomach slit open and nearly bleeds to death. We also see that even having a friend to chat with seems forbidden as Liz has a forming relationship with a bi-sexual named Katie(Liz Morehead)for whose life is threatened by Blake. Blake is such a mean, cold-blooded bastard he threatens to hook Liz's son when he comes of age.

The film is set up as a means for a hooker to speak candidly about what it's like being a "whore." We see Liz working those who stop off to check her out and even see one or two possible clients getting a chance at a "good time." One client gets so worked up his heart stops! The film doesn't seem to judge Liz, but the profession and it's disadvantages. Be warned:the film is sexually explicit and profane from the moment we're introduced to Liz until the fade-out. I think either you will find Russell's performance grating and terrible or very watchable. I think Theresa is terrific, capturing a character who really fell off the side of the tracks and is trying to confront what her choice of profession has done to her(loss of her child to adoption, the joyless task of getting men off, etc). I will agree with many that Ken Russell's film is a mixed bag often drifting from comedy into tragedy, but I myself just don't see how a woman like this' story could be told any other way.
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Interesting concept but doesn't work as a movie
SkullScreamerReturns17 February 2020
At first I was puzzled what am I watching. I expected some depressing dirt drama but instead got witty chick flick humor. Is the movie an anti-prostitution message, or is it on the contrary trying to say that it's an ok profession?

Well, then I read that the script is based on comments from actual prostitutes. Then the movie made a bit more sense. So I give a little bit more respect for the film because of the reality-based subject material.

But even if the intention is good, it doesn't mean it's a good movie. I felt like the mood of the film is annoying. It tries to wrap the serious theme into an overtly comedic tone and that just feels awkward to me. I would have like a more serious style instead. Even better, to read a book about the subject. That would have been more interesting and thought provoking than to watch a mostly non-funny comedy.

Not the worst movie I've seen but at times I felt like I was watching some amateurish school project where the makers didn't really know what they are trying to accomplish.
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Hilarious Black Comedy.
ponchito-0058813 April 2019
What a hoot! If you want camp, look no further. Whore is as much camp as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane Hudson, or Pink Flamingos.

Whore was released in response to Pretty Woman about the same time, but fell off the radar because of minimal distribution. But now you can access it via Netflix. The point of Whore was to show the absurdity of Pretty Woman, how unrealistic Pretty Woman's portrayal of prostitution was.

And Whore succeeded! You see winos vomiting on the street next to the Whore plying her trade. You see filthy trash filled streets littered with homeless people, and panhandlers. Not first class hotels and classy restaurants with fine linens as in Pretty Woman.

I love Theresa Russell in the title role, the Whore. I always thought she was a superb actress, overshadowed by many other actresses of her generation for no apparent reason that I can discern.

I've stayed in several bordellos, had a first hand look at prostitution. Completely by accident, of course. When I arrived in Manila in the Philippines I asked my taxi driver to take me to a hotel, it was late at night after a long haul flight from San Francisco and I just wanted to fall into bed. The driver mistakenly thought I was straight and wanted you know what, so he took me to his favorite whore house. Packed with local whores with Aussie and Kiwi customers. By the time I realized it was a whore house the driver was long gone, and I was too tired to look for other accommodations.

Same thing happened to me in Santiago, Chile. Another whore house. I can assure you no one I saw was dressed like Julia Roberts or Richard Gere. There were no elegant picture perfect hotel bedrooms, no expensive floral arrangements. The only thing that mattered to the Johns was the sex. The sex trade is sloppy, brutal, crude, rude, nasty, dirty. Whore is real, camp and very, very funny.
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Excellent drama film
DavidYZ22 April 2017
This is a very good film about a Los Angeles street prostitute. It has sex scenes and lots of dark humour.

Theresa Russell gives a brilliant performance as the protagonist Liz - she often talks to the camera inbetween looking for clients.

It's a lot better than Pretty Woman.
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gridoon8 December 2002
The tone of this movie is annoyingly inconsistent. Is it supposed to be a gritty expose of prostitution or a tongue-in-cheek comedy? The only thing you can be sure about is that it really deserves its NC-17 rating. The device of having Theresa Russell talking directly to the camera (and, consequently, to us) was perhaps intended to give a documentary feel to the whole production, but it has the opposite effect: it never lets you forget that "it's only a movie". (**)
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A film literally born in and out of "Bondage."
Pedro_H21 October 2004
London cab drivers are good witnesses to street life and when one cabby (David Hines) got talking to one prostitute (late at night) he decided to write her story down and re-create it as a play called "Bondage." I never saw it myself - but I am told the reviews were mixed.

The story of a sad life is told through the words and actions of one of the great "almost" actresses of her time: Theresa Russell. She tells it in a matter of fact way that reminds us of Alfie.

The setting has been changed to LA and the show seems to be a list of everything that can happen in a pro's life being ticked-off one by one: Pimp, violence, creeps, law of the street, you name it, it is all here. Does it tell me anything new? No, but I am not everyone.

Good for people that live in a Pretty Woman/Disneyland world (this movie is Ken Russell's answer to the Julia Roberts movie!), but they won't be watching it.

People that make these types of films are on a sleaze holiday. Their real lives are in the suburbs, safe in their middle classes houses built on royalty cheques and property inflation.

Selling sex is a big business and more people take part in it than you know. Newspapers, magazines, film studios, the Internet, TV (of all colours), you name the media, they are all in to selling sex. Street sex is only the very bottom rung of the giant ladder.

Much of film is stupid. Just plucking one famous name out of thin air, was Animal House an accurate portrayal of student life? But who cared, it was entertainment. Hollywood has long done a great job of making sex clean and family friendly - what was Cary Grant trying to do to Grace Kelly? Get her up to his room to play Scrabble!?

This film doesn't really exploit sex (and that alone will disappoint many!), but it does dance around a lot of racy topics. The acting is generally good, but the story is limp and forgettable. There are lots of tragedies on this world, but most of them are out of sight, not standing on streets corners in miniskirts. For such reasons their story will not be told.
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changing the title can't save it
mjneu5915 January 2011
Theresa Russell, playing the eponymous streetwalker in a nameless American city, bares all for the camera, including her limitations as an actress. Most of the near-plot less film is a confessional monologue, with Russell looking straight into the camera and sharing her trade secrets, but she hasn't the depth of talent to carry what amounts to a one-woman show, giving a flat performance to complement the empty, inadequate script.

From all the artificial banter it shouldn't be surprising to learn that the film was adapted from a stage play, the name of which ('Bondage') is even more blunt and specific than the (original) title of the screen version. But what should have been an unflinching report on the use and abuse of women becomes, instead, a strictly skin-deep beginner's guide to the art of prostitution, which never rises above the obvious clichés. It might have been director Ken Russell's answer to the trite platitudes of 'Pretty Woman', but all the raw squalor and explicit language is too clinical to provide any real shock value. The film seems to have been made by a dirty old man who no longer has the ability to create an entertaining scandal.
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