Stella's Past Is Playing tricks
RHC | 01/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stella is a young, alienated woman who is trapped by the tricks of her mind. She is driven into a life of prostitution by her mysterious past, which unfolds for the viewers in fractured, painful memories. Fragments of her childhood invade her present state of living, taking her back into a past which she longs to escape. She dreams of a redemption that will scourge her of her tortured memories, and allow her to live a new life, with her newfound love, Eddie. As she finally begins to break free of her past, Eddie's own tricks (drug use, prostitution) threaten to destroy their thread-bare happiness. Loving oneself, and forgiveness, should never be so hard. Kelly McDonald (Stella) and Hans Matheson (Eddie) give stand-out performances in this feature debut by director Corky Giedroyc. McDonald and Matheson are sensitively waif-like, vulnerable, and utterly embraceable, as two down-trodden, drug-addicted prostitutes attempting to make the best of their young, shattered lives. Their emotional facial expressions comprise the bulk of writer A.L. Kennedy's concise dialogue. Giedroyc chose to film Stella amongst the squalid streets of Prague, slashing the scene-scapes with a distorted use of chiaroscuro, and real addict-prostitutes, whom the actors worked with prior to filming. This gives Stella Does Tricks an authentic ambiance of desperation, alienation, loneliness, and despair."