Variety (1983)

BETTE GORDON

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA//, 1983. , , , . Original Story by Bette Gordon, Screenplay by , , , additional dialogue by . Cinematography by , . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by Elyse Goldberg. Film Editing by .

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 .

Toronto International Film Festival: 1983

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