Review – Elegant Angel’s Portrait of a Call Girl (2011)

I’m so lucky.

I get exciting mail pretty much every single day; and one day last week, I got something I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for – Elegant Angel’s Portrait of a Call Girl (2011).

(pictured: this film is intense!! buy your copy and/or watch it now here)

This is what the box says:

“Jessie Andrews stars as Elle, a Call Girl haunted by her past. Through a series of liberating sexual experiences she is able to unlock the doors to her own secrets and confront the darkness that she has been running from.”

And here is some further synopsis-like text:

“Elle is a character who is a call girl with issues in her past. Through a series of sexual experiences she is able to find and accept herself, and discover the possibilities of personal freedom. She is young, somewhat naive, and she has done wrong. She is romanced by materialism, and a type of lifestyle, but deep down something isn’t right about the way she feels about herself. This manifests itself in her sexual emotions, and her dynamics, and this enables her to experience and come to terms with her deeper feelings of guilt and a lack of self worth. The story is intended to be a visually poetic and sexually powerful journey towards acquiring the freedom she has been searching for by being honest with herself, taking responsibility, and making amends.”

Here is the box cover:

 

And here is the trailer:

 

After all that, I’m sure you can see why I was on pins and needles. I even had to write a p/review about Portrait of a Call Girl here.

And I gotta tell you – Portrait of a Call Girl arrived last week, and I watched it almost immediately… but I’ve since been sitting on the review for days. You see, I just don’t even know where to begin with this one.

So let’s start simply. As the synopses say, Elle is young woman unsettled by her past. She’s in a period of transition; and her experiences as a call girl, which are anything but “ordinary” (what is ordinary anyway?), seem to be helping her work through whatever it is she’s dealing with.

The sex scenes in this film operationalize Elle’s call girl experiences, and let me tell you – my eyes were popping out of my head, for very different reasons, during each. But it wasn’t because the mechanics of the scenes themselves were anything too unusual (a couple boy-girls, a boy-boy-girl three way, some masturbation, and a blow bang); it was because how each scene was conducted, who was cast, and how those individuals played their parts… well, each of those elements were extremely atypical.

 

Elle is played by Jessie Andrews, who is absolutely adorable yet extremely young looking, even for her current barely legal age. Her patrons/customers (johns? tricks?) are played by a wealth of boys ranging from hott and studly to shudder-inducing and intimidating to mega creepy ick (in my opinion). The sex depictions themselves vary from purposely somewhat disengaged to squirm-inducing uncomfortable to downright out of control (I got two words for ya: Manuel Ferrara). Without giving away to much, the entire enterprise is rather bold.

Framing Elle’s work/sexual experiences are memories of her past and dealings in her present – mom’s deadbeat boyfriend, a kind-seeming older lover, Elle’s apparent preoccupation with material goods, her loneliness, a little bit of self-loathing, and transition. Again, I don’t want to give away too much; but I will say that the secrets and twists in Portrait of a Call Girl were unexpected.

 

When I first wrote about this film, I forecast a fairly gritty Kubrick-esque portrayal of a type of prostitution that would raise some eyebrows. I was definitely not disappointed (disappointed?). Portrait of a Call Girl related a familiar yet taboo trope in a pretty rough, yet beautiful and interesting, way. It reminded me of more “classic” adult films (The Devil in Miss Jones 1973, The Opening of Misty Beethoven 1975, Cafe Flesh 1982, The Fashionistas 2002, and Corruption 2006, among others) in that the sex was an integral component of the story. It wasn’t just an act or a series of twenty minute additions to a poorly-done sitcom episode.

And in the end, Portrait of a Call Girl left me a little uncomfortable, with questions still lingering. Questions like…

– Why tell the story of such a young call girl? Why invite the potential controversy? Why not an older woman who had (apparently) lived a little?

– Why Jessie Andrews? Of all the younger performers out there, why the most fresh faced of them all in such a unique/extreme film?

Maybe all of this was to get a desired effect – startling, simultaneously extreme and hott (even if you don’t want it to be), and unsettling. Even now, I can’t tell you how I feel about this movie; but I can tell you that, if you see it, you’re not going to forget it.

 

Recommended for: everyone, no one, and all of us in between. There is cinematic beauty, art-house flare, symbolism and movement, and some fairly off-the-wall sex (especially for a big-budget feature sort of film). Portrait of a Call Girl may be for those looking to study an adult film (like, as an example of exemplary work). It’s definitely not for porn amateurs or those uncomfortable with being uncomfortable, boundary pushing, and the like.

 

Notables

With performances from Jessie Andrews, Darla Crane (non-sex), and Zoe Holloway (non-sex)

Also featuring Eric John, Manuel Ferrara, Jay Crew, Mick Blue, Ramon Nomar, Alex Gonz, Bill Bailey, Danny Mountain, Johnny Fender, Tommy Pistol, Mike Fromme, Alec Knight, Richie, Alan Stafford, and Eric Swiss

Elegant Angel’s Portrait of a Call Girl (2011) was written and directed by Graham Travis and released in August, 2011.

Buy your copy and/or watch it now here.

 

BTS and Extras: wowie wow, two bonus scenes with Jessie Andrews (both girl-girl), bloopers, casting, galleries, and all sorts of footage of her chatting up the camera!! Every moment of the BTS is worth watching – it’s amazing to compare BTS Jessie, who kinda seems like an adorable goofball “off camera,” with the red, drooling, out-of-control-while-trying-to-maintain-control Jessie we see in scene. Fascinating.

* * *

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Images courtesy of Elegant Angel.

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