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Irina Palm
Irina Palm
Actors: Jenny Agutter, Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Meg Wynn Owen, Kevin Bishop
Director: Sam Garbarski
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2008     1hr 43min

Marianne Faithfull stars as Maggie, a middle-aged widow who, desperate to raise money to pay for her grandson`s medical bills, takes a hostess job in a sex club. She soon transforms herself into the much sought after and h...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Jenny Agutter, Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Meg Wynn Owen, Kevin Bishop
Director: Sam Garbarski
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Strand Releasing
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 08/12/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Beautiful and Remarkable
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 07/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Marianne Faithfull is back among us and she is better than ever. In Strand Releasing's new DVD, "Irina Palm" Faithfull plays a grandmother who is financially broken and becomes a sex worker in seedy Soho in London in order to support herself and her grandson. Faithfull is Maggie who leaves her grandson's hospital bed and goes to a sex shop where she takes a job so that she can pay for her grandson's medical treatment. A younger woman teaches her to service clients who stand on the other side of a wall with a hole in it where she can hear but not see them. Her technique is so good that lines begin to form and she becomes known as "The Wanking Widow". She even begins to suffer from a condition which her fellow workers call "penis elbow".
The movie is a comedy and the comedy comes from the look on Faithfull's face when she goes to work and from the reaction of her friends when they find out what she does during the day. Yet the film is more than just a comedy in that it shows just how far someone will go to save a loved one.
It is hard to believe that this is the same Marianne Faithfull who was a pop idol in the 1960's. We learn that she just recovered from breast cancer and is planning to go on a music tour. Faithfull's first love is acting but right now returning to the world of music is her priority. Although she does not look as she once did, her beautiful smile is instantly recognizable,
"Irina Palm" is about a journey through Maggie's mind and we see her doubts and her hesitations, her fears and her joys, her confidence and her love and above all her spirit. Her performance is nothing short of amazing and she says more when she is silent than with words.
This is one of those small yet remarkable films that comes along every once in a while and Faithfull in her stillness and simplicity puts the movie in her pocket and walks away with it Be warned that the synopsis that I have given does not do justice to the film as it deals with familial relations and family pride. One might think to condemn Maggie for her less than honorable profession but we realize that she has to save her grandson and she will let nothing stop her. Her dedication is touching and sincere.
Director Sam Garbarski gives us a description of everyday life that is authentic and he balances the film's topics so that we are given time to reflect on what we see. The entire film exudes an aura of empathy and love and we feel it as we watch. All in all this is a beautiful film and should not be missed if for no other reason than to see Faithfull's performance but there are other equally valid reasons to watch this masterpiece.
The Practicalities of Desperation
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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 Faithfull 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. Faithfull 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, August 08"
Marianne is amazing
Robert Barnett | Surf City, CA | 06/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Hand Jobs as a sweet love story. Faithful is tremendous. Her facial expressions are worth an oscar."
A Story Told by Hand
Hikari | Lima, OH USA | 03/09/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"3.5 stars. There have been many British films dealing with the gritty underbelly of the sex trade; despite a plot that would seem to mark this as one of those, this movie is much closer in in spirit to "Shirley Valentine" in its central theme of a woman of a certain age declaring emancipation from her boring and limited provincial existence and finding a late-in-life love in the most unlikely place. Widowed Maggie, desperate to raise cash for medical treatment for her critically ill grandson winds up applying for a 'hostess' position in a SoHo sex club giving hand jobs. Not because she wants this kind of work, but because with no education or job skills, it's all she can get. The owner of the club agrees to give her a trial, and to his surprise, not to mention Maggie's own, she turns out to be a natural at this work, despite her prim demeanor. In short order, Maggie is leading a duel existence: queen of the SoHo sex district by day (and night) as well as unassuming provincial grandmother, taking the train to London every afternoon from her village while trying to avoid detection by her nosy neighbors and her son and daughter-in-law. Maggie's boss renames her 'Irina Palm' and makes her (or rather, her right hand) the centerpiece of his club. At first intending to exploit this sheltered housewife, he winds up discovering tender feelings for his new employee. Those familiar with Marianne Faithfull's storied past as 60's rock icon, girlfriend of Mick Jagger and infamous heroin addict will marvel that she can portray a timid woman of limited life experience just discovering her own identity, but she brings depth and pathos to Maggie's situation, as well as a dry humor. The scenes where Maggie deals with the occupational hazard of '(not tennis) elbow' or tells off her snotty village friends after they find out what she's been up to are delightful. I had expected a much darker and more exploitative tale, given the subject matter, but "Irina Palm" turned out to be an oddly lighthearted and life-affirming venture into cinema."