Bleak and Erotic
Gotan Girl | Los Angeles, California, USA | 12/10/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"To my surprise, upon viewing this movie, I discovered that it is a love story...albeit dark, depressing love story with little if any light at the end of the tunnel. Claire Dolan (the late Katrin Cartlidge) is a high priced prostitute working to pay off her pimp. She tries to escape from New York to a town in New Jersey to live a legitimate life as a hairstylist. Believing she's being followed one night, she hits on Elton (Vincent D'Onofrio) in a bar in order to obtain protection. However, as she slow dances with him, she becomes less fixated on watching for enemies and surrenders to the romantic moment. Eventually she's sucked back into life as a prostitute but Elton sticks with her. Their sexual relationship starts out rather stiff and impersonal but gradually becomes more passionate as she comes to trust him, and he becomes increasingly obsessed with her and with trying to understand her sordid life. Meanwhile Claire's evil pimp (the fine Irish actor Colm Meaney, the only upbeat character in this film) isn't happy about her love affair and does what he can to interfere by playing Claire and Elton against one another. Most of the sex in this film is cold, but there are two tender, passionate love scenes between the Claire and Elton which caused me to root for them as a couple. On the other hand, be warned that there is a scene between them toward the end which is a bit hairy. This film is definitely not for kids under 17."Claire Dolan" isn't a great movie as it is overly artsy, complete with perpetually frowning actors and monosyllabic dialogue. I found it rather hard to believe that businessmen would pay hundreds of dollars to sleep with Claire, who is so grim, pale and waifish that she seems better suited to a gothic film than an erotic drama. I recommend the movie for fans of Vincent D'Onofrio, as this is one of his better indie film performances; he proves here that he can do understated roles as well as he does the big, showy stuff. Female fans may find him exceptionally attractive here...great hair, guy's-guy wardrobe, big puppy dog eyes. It's certainly an interesting movie, despite its drawbacks, and many of its scenes have stuck with me."
Sexual but not sexy
Kevin W. Koehler | Los Angeles, CA | 01/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We open on images of urban architecture. Skyscrapers, high-rise apartments, covered in opaque glass and shot at angles that serve less to show us what lies inside these buildings than to reflect the world without.
This world is an ominous place and few people are made more aware of it than the titular Claire Dolan.
A Manhattan prostitute who caters to sorry, white-collar johns, Claire has a moment of clarity when her elderly mother dies under mysterious, unresolved circumstances. For Claire, intimacy has always been a carefully-constructed illusion she creates for her clients. "You're not like other men," she's fond of saying. "You're beautiful," they're found of replying. Neither is entirely true (no disrespect to deceased actress Katrin Cartlidge, who some will remember from noteworthy performances in Breaking the Waves or Naked).
When relationships are measured in dollars and every human exchange comes with cost, it's no surprise when Claire only has a passerby on the street to confide "I just buried my mother." The stranger offers little comfort. Claire attempts to restart her life across the Hudson River but ultimately fails to outrun her past - they have a way of catching up to people and hers comes in the form of her pimp (Colm Meaney, overjoyed to be playing something other than an Irish gangster). Along the way, she meets and ultimately falls in love with sensitive taxi driver, Elton (Vincent D'Onofrio, in what future generations will term his "svelte period"), playing wink-wink with a film archetype made famous by Scorsese and De Niro. Claire later seeks emotional consolation via the bearing of a child - it's unclear if this is a repudiation of her former lifestyle or the ultimate indulgence in it. We're left to judge this for ourselves.
The film is sexual but not sexy. The only time we can reasonably certain of Claire's pleasure in the sex act is during a tryst with Elton after he agrees to help pay off her debts. Like Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher, Cache, Funny Games), writer/director Lodge Kerrigan is consistently indicting the audience of its crimes (remember those reflective surfaces of the opening). Just as Claire cannot experience true intimacy, neither can we. The camera is a voyeur, frequently recording Claire's passionless sex with johns from across the room, around corners, through the crack of a door left ajar, and if we still didn't get it, reflected on a blackened television screen. All the while, she has the bored/wounded look of an aging porn star, her eyes - those windows of the soul - serving less to show us what lies within than reflect the world without.
Interesting footnote: Lodge Kerrigan would later direct a film called In God's Hands that had to be abandoned after severe damage to the negative (it starred Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard). Steven Soderbergh was a producer on that film, as he would be on Kerrigan's incredible picture, Keane. That film is available on DVD with cuts by both director and producer, an interesting exercise in filmschoolishness."
Surprised other reviewers didn't like this better
socrates17 | New Jersey/Tanelorn 2008/9 | 12/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For some incomprehensible reason, this came out in France several years ago so I bought it from Amazon.fr. It was well worth the extra cost and I'm glad I didn't have to wait for it to come out here.
Yes. It is dark, bleak, and generally depressing, but the ending is great and the performance from Katrin Cartlidge shows what a tremendous loss to Cinema it was when she died. She was the embodiment of the characteristic "nuanced."
Also very surprising was Colin Meany as the Claire's antagonist. (I don't like the word "villain" both because I have a hard time spelling it and because this is a story based on things that could have, and probably do, happen.)
Strongly, strongly recommended. I haven't checked but I think I put a review (in English) on Amazon.fr."