Whores’ Glory (2011)
Written and directed by Michael Glawogger
Produced by Alfred Deutsch, Erich Lackner, Peter Wirthensohn, Thomas Pridnig, Pepe Danquart, Mirjam Quinte, Anne Even, Klaus Hipfl, Chris Lowenstein
In daily exhibitions that are at least as compartmentalized as their lives, flashy doxies of an orderly bordello in Bangkok christened The Fishtank are presented in a vitreous booth, and selected by assigned numbers. No such civility or organization can be found in Faridpur’s sickeningly shabby City of Joy, where bawds brutish and benevolent wrangle reluctant and embittered cocottes patronized mostly by mannered, working-class men. In contrast to this impoverishment, The Zone in Reynosa — where ribalds cruise suites to browse flirty filles de joie — seems almost paradisical, but sex there is as strictly transactional as it is comprehensive, notwithstanding some of its harlots’ fantastically morbid, syncretic prayers.
Sweepingly wide and overhead exteriors as well as panoramic interiors immersively introduce these settings, preparing viewers for interviews that elicited funny, grisly, lustful, piteous accounts of meretricious comedy and tragedy. Glawogger’s veracious views are painstakingly positioned, but tinged with subjectivity, as when rueful and immiserated interviewees are shot at distances emphasizing their isolation or desolation, or when the perfunctory vigor of Mexican acokoinonia is unmistakably framed in close medium shots.
Even squalid scenes benefit from Wolfgang Thaler’s high contrast and saturation.
Whether one can enjoy or at all tolerate admittedly apropos songs by PJ Harvey or CocoRosie will determine how one adjudges this movie’s soundtrack.
Before their shifts begin, Thai trulls pray at shrines for good fortune, and are then titivated by make-up artists and hairstylists. They dine, shop, and ironically overspend on bar boys at host clubs together during their off-hours, discussing prospects of second jobs, how an inexhaustible glut of hustlers has diminished profits, and why Malaysian, African and Indian johns are so detestable. Barking dogs copulate shamelessly by The Fishtank’s entrance; within, a politic attendant refuses to haggle with an elderly customer.
A natty barber who frequents the City of Joy explicates its sociosexual necessity.
Two carloads of raunchy Mexican buddies fixated on anal sodomy prate on preferred prostitutes and perversions. In no less detail, an erstwhile cyprian dilates her numerous techniques. Another tells of an unreciprocally enamored client’s misfortune.
An oily American tourist dallies doltishly with one of The Fishtank’s toothier tarts.
Over the cost of a young wench that she’s delivered, a procurer chaffers with a madam. Elsewhere, an obnoxious trollop touts herself to the annoyance of peers and passersby. Most tragic of these tramps is one fat, aging, and harried by her brothel’s landlord for failing to pay what she can no longer earn.
With casual candor, a Mestiza moll relates how pimps allure or coerce guileless villagers into prostitution. Two others descant their relationships with Lady Death while smoking crack.
Transitionary wipes between segments are as bathetically stupid as miffing musical selections that detract rather than complement.
Produced late in Glawogger’s life and career, his penetrative, comparative exposure of whoredom in undeveloped and developing societies graphically uncovers the rankest repercussions of sex sold for sport, succor, and survival. Unfortunately, either he or his producers were convinced that its music had to be as trashy as his worst subjects.