Case Number 20014


Film Movement // 2009 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // October 29th, 2010

The Charge

Death fascinates me much more than life.

Opening Statement

There's little new to be said in a story about a small-town girl heading to the big city and finding a heap of trouble, yet the concept has been mined endlessly in independent film. Just because the events in A Call Girl aren't going to surprise anybody, however, doesn't mean that director Damjan Kozole (Labour Equals Freedom) has made a dull film. A strong cast with a fantastic lead performance makes for an engaging film that suffers only a little from its predictability.

Facts of the Case

Aleksandra has moved from her small Slovenian town to the capital city of Ljubljana, to take some English classes and make her own way. She wants to take advantage of everything the city has to offer, but in order to afford all she wants she becomes a call girl, styling herself "The Slovenian Girl." When one of her clients, a German government official, drops dead of a heart attack in front of her, she bolts, but not without accidentally leaving some evidence of her presence. When the police find the body, they want to talk to this Slovenian girl, but she's afraid of being found. After a pair of pimps try and force her into service for her own "protection," she gives up and goes back home until things cool off, but even there, she can't escape what happened.

The Evidence

Through the eyes of the troubled and conflicted, but beautiful Aleksandra, Damja Kozola shows us a modernized Slovenia that still shows the battle scars of its past. Like her nation, parts of Aleksandra are sweet and fetching, but there is a dark underbelly that can't help but rise to the surface. Her life is a cycle of English classes and johns, over and over every day, and the apathy is completely apparent on her face. She is distant, bitter, and lies constantly; there's little reason to like her at all, except that she has survival skills and a certain charm that makes the character compelling to watch.

A Call Girl is enjoyable and moves quickly, but the story suffers from a fairly predictable script. The first third of the film presents us with the dead client, the pimps, and the problems she has with her family. All are standard-issue plot points that may be necessary to tell the story, but are all too convenient? After the German dies and the police rule that he died of natural causes, it's unclear why they're still so bent on speaking to Aleksandra. Unless they just want to harass her, the investigation should be over. Her name gets in the papers, though, and alerts the pimps that she isn't working for anybody. Her fear of the pimps drives her back to her hometown where she has to deal with her family issues. It isn't badly told, but it goes exactly how you would expect.

Luckily, the performances and the setting overcome much of the problem with the story and we're left with a solid overall picture. Nina Ivanišin is fantastic in the lead role. She exudes strength and resolve, but there is also a resignation about her. Her face is at once apathetic, but still expressive. She has a compelling conviction as Aleksandra lies constantly and persuasively to get what she needs; I'd almost certainly give her a loan, which is exactly why I should never be a banker. The rest of the cast doesn't have nearly as much to do, but they are good across the board. Her father, played by Peter Musevski, is especially amusing. He cares deeply for Aleksandra, but doesn't understand what's happened to his daughter and desperately wants to get her back. The role is somewhat sad in concept, but Musevski constantly lightens the mood because he simply loves life. He has his beer and his band (Electroshock, which plays a hilarious cover of Frank Zappa's "Bobby Brown Goes Down"); if he could have his daughter back, he would have everything he needs.

Damja's direction is straightforward, efficient, and with little stylistic flourish. He shows a Slovenia that is somewhat modern, but still has its roots in the past. The director is unsentimental about his subject, but still allows the emotional aspects of the story to come forth when necessary. It all works to very good effect and, even if the story is predictable throughout, I have no problem recommending A Call Girl (the movie, that is; I haven't met any actual call girls, at least that I know of).

The release of A Call Girl from Film Movement is acceptable, but nothing terribly special. The anamorphic transfer is generally fine, but this is a low budget film and it shows. While the movie is nicely shot, there's an overall cheap look to the picture that mars the experience somewhat. The sound is a similar story, with no noticeable noise and clear dialog, but there's nothing dynamic about it at all. Like every Film Movement release, the only notable extra is a short film. Whether there's rhyme or reason to their selections for these, I can't tell, but this time we have Honored, directed by Stephanie Fischette and starring Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men). The twenty minute short focuses on an army widow having an unexpected visit from her husband's platoon buddy who arrives with a stack of letters that her husband never sent. It's an excellent little acting piece and, in that respect, a fine compliment to the main feature.

Closing Statement

Sometimes funny and sometimes kind of sad, A Call Girl is a solid drama with fine performances and a nice slice of Slovenian life. More could have been done to make the story a little more original, but it's serviceable, getting us where we need to go to reach the emotional highlights.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2010 Daryl Loomis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 82
Audio: 84
Extras: 40
Acting: 90
Story: 83
Judgment: 83

Perp Profile
Studio: Film Movement
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Slovene)

* English

Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Short Film

* IMDb