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Working Girls Criterion Blu-ray Review

“Working Girls” was ahead of its time.

Not to be confused with 1988’s “Working Girl” with Melanie Griffith, 1986’s “Working Girls” is a day in the life look at sex workers in New York. The grounded, free flowing, documentary style film primarily revolves around a young college graduate named Molly who lives a dual life as a photographer and a sex worker (unbeknownst to her girlfriend Diane). Much of the story takes place at the brothel Molly works at alongside other rotating sex workers such as Gina, Dawn, April, Mary and Debbie. The brothel itself is run by the shrewd, materialistic Lucy who is also the mistress of a married man (Miles). As the day unfolds, Molly and the others please their clients by making their fantasies come true. 

Skillfully written and directed by Lizzie Borden, “Working Girls” is an important indie film that has an intimate fly on the wall storytelling style about the life and business of sex workers. Unlike many other sex worker stories that look down on the profession or perhaps judges its characters and their life choices, this film never demonizes its characters. Instead, it shows these women just trying to make a living and or supporting their families. We see the grind of the job and how it affects them. We see them having to keep secrets and doing what they have to do stay afloat. More importantly, we see them as people.

“Working Girls” isn’t without its flaws. The movie is inherently repetitive which is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, the repetition is clearly purposeful in that we see the daily toll the job has on these women. On the negative side, it can be a bit taxing on the viewer who is perhaps seeking something more from the story. We do get a little bit of variety in the end when Molly begins to question her life. 

The acting is also a bit uneven at times as some of the performances are a little on the wooden side. Louise Smith (Molly) and Amanda Goodwin (the bratty young Dawn) give the film’s best performances, but they also have the most to work with character wise.


Presentation: 1.66:1 1080p. How does it look? The film has been restored from a 4K digital transfer. The result? A nice new print that maintains the grit and grain of the original print.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? This is a clean Mono track. Viewers have the option of using English subtitles as well.

* A booklet featuring credits, photos, an essay by author So Mayer, an interview between Lizzie Borden and Scott MacDonald
* A 2007  commentary by Lizzie Borden, DP Judy Irola, and actress Amanda Goodwin.
* A new 21 minute remotely recorded conversation between director Lizzie Borden and fellow filmmaker Bette Gordon. Conversations range from Borden’s filmography to various elements of “Working Girls.”
* A new 22 minute remotely recorded conversation between cast members Louise Smith and Amanda Goodwin, producer Andi Gladstone and FA Director Vicky Funari about their experiences in making “Working Girls.”
* A new remotely recorded 26 minute conversation with real life sex workers Jo Weldon, Antonia Crane, Selene the Stripper and Daphne about the correlations between “Working Girls” and their own job experiences.

July 30, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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