Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA/West Germany/United Kingdom, 1983. Variety Motion Pictures, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, Channel Four Films, New York State Councils for the Arts and Humanities. Original Story by Bette Gordon, Screenplay by Kathy Acker, Jerry Delamater, Peter Koper, additional dialogue by Nancy Reilly. Cinematography by Tom DiCillo, John Foster. Produced by Renée Shafransky. Music by John Lurie. Production Design by Elyse Goldberg. Costume Design by Elyse Goldberg. Film Editing by Ila von Hasperg.
Sandy McLeod is excellent as a woman who is desperate for a job when she accepts a position running the ticket booth at an adult movie theatre. The patrons sometimes get inappropriate but for the most part it’s a mundane job taking cash and issuing ticket stubs, then during her smoke breaks in the lobby she finds herself fascinated by the glimpses she gets of the worlds of eroticism she sees on the big screen. The fantasies portrayed are like an unhinged trip through the looking glass, and her fixation on them is matched by her preoccupation with one customer who frequently attends the films there, a well to do gentleman who invites her out to dinner and who she suspects works for the mob. Becoming interested enough to follow the man around Manhattan and then out to his hotel room in Asbury Park, McLeod estranges herself from her boyfriend (Will Patton), who is uncomfortable about the job she is working, and instead becomes more and more interested in a twilight world that has a hold on her curiosity. A beautifully photographed effort by director Bette Gordon, this film has a provocative and exciting take on a character’s exploration of their own identity, daring to use a medium usually not associated with liberating a woman’s consciousness, pornography, to insinuate a liberation in the heroine that doesn’t involve exploitative sexual experimentation (this isn’t an Emmanuelle film, no matter what the box cover art tells you). Intelligent and sensitive, it also features a terrific supporting performance by photographer Nan Goldin.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1983