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Whore

This popumentary on whoredom is a mixture of fact and fiction that plays fast and loose with both. Posed against colored digital wallpaper or time-lapsed clouds, whores, gigolos, pimps and johns parade their likes, dislikes, turn-offs, turn-ons with exhibitionist glee or studied nonchalance. Helmer Luna (Maria Lidon) ropes in Denise Richards and Daryl Hannah to power a sexual but unconvincing plot.

Cast:
With: Daryl Hannah, Denise Richards, Joachim Almeida. (English, Spanish, French, Hungarian dialogue)

This jazzed-up popumentary on whoredom is a high-concept mixture of fact and fiction that plays fast and loose with both. While archly posed against vividly colored digital wallpaper or time-lapsed clouds, whores, gigolos, pimps and johns proudly parade their likes, dislikes, turn-offs and turn-ons with either exhibitionist glee or studied nonchalance. Helmer Luna (Maria Lidon) then ropes in Denise Richards and Daryl Hannah to power a decidedly sexual but rather unconvincing wrap-around plot. Pic’s marriage of sexual tease with sociological sensationalism seems tailor-made for cable but plentiful nudity could provide an upscale theatrical venue with high-tech titillation.

English-language pic jet sets around the globe, interviewing plyers of the oldest profession in Madrid, Budapest, Paris and Las Vegas. While the hookers, pornmakers and consumers hold forth colorfully in their respective languages, subtitles add to the information barrage on-screen. Certain particularly toothsome, outrageous or articulate personae return again and again, while others appear only briefly. Meanwhile, playful f/x elevate the cheeky nudity (this is not your father’s t&a) while non-stop facts and figures supply an educational overlay.

But when the director, the solo-monickered Luna (formerly known as the actress Maria Lidon), again tries her hand at fiction (following her unfortunate helming debut, the Vincent Gallo/Joachim Almeida-topped “Stranded”), pic loses in credibility what it gains in star power.

Richards plays a grad student whose anthropology thesis vaguely intersects with some of the interspersed interviews. When her grants dry up, she seeks help from neighbor Hannah, an actress who supplements her dead-end thesping career by moonlighting in the puta trade.

Richards is stuck in exruciatingly unconvincing dramatic episodes that recall far more old-fashioned porn material. She vacillates between these straight narrative scenes and video-shot “interviews” that place her in the middle of the docu world.

Hannah fares a little better, her scenes coyly photographed through windows or in long-shot as she gets to exchange languid one-liners with an oddly underutilized Joachim Almeida. Admittedly, Hannah and Richards look great curled up on a couch sharing gossip, lounging around in slinky little numbers or in nothing at all, lending some iconic pizzazz to the anonymous array of unfamiliar faces and bodies.

F/x are well-crafted, and sumptuous lensing by Ricardo Aronovich adds class. End sequence, wherein everyone in the film, thesps and non-thesps alike, bid farewell to the camera, is a triumph of spontaneity and almost worth the price of admission.

Whore

Spain

Production: A Screen Media Films release of a Dolores Pictures production. Produced by Jose Magan. Directed by Luna (Maria Lidon). Screenplay,Adela Ibanez, Isabel Pisano, from the book "Yo Puta" by Pisano; story, Jorge Parrondo.

Crew: Camera (color), Ricardo Aronovich; editor, Bernat Vilaplana; music, Javier Navarrete; production designer, Alain Bainee; sound (Dolby Digital), Oriol Tarrago. Reviewed at Tribeca Cinemas, New York, April 15, 2004. (In Tribeca Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Daryl Hannah, Denise Richards, Joachim Almeida. (English, Spanish, French, Hungarian dialogue)

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