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Electrifying indie auteur Lodge Kerrigan, following up his cult ordeal Clean, Shaven, explores the desolate existence and paranoid perspective of a woman lost in a tangle of high-end prostitution and urban anxiety. Claire Dolan (Katrin Cartlidge, Naked, Breaking the Waves), an Irish immigrant in Manhattan, pays off her debt to a formidable gangster/pimp (Colm Meaney, The Snapper, Layer Cake) by submitting herself, as a call girl, to the whims of anonymous businessmen. Craving an ordinary existence and living in cold dread of losing her sense of self, Claire attempts to bond with a quietly troubled cab driver (Vincent D'Onofrio, Full Metal Jacket, Ed Wood) and remake her life. Both a dramatic exploration of exploitation and a psychological portrait of modern womanhood adrift in a world of violation and rootlessness, and filmed by Kerrigan with a poet's awareness of detail, Claire Dolan stands as one of the 1990s' most significant and affecting works of cinema.
A bittersweet film about an Irish immigrant working as a mid-level prostitute in Manhattan, Claire Dolan tells a darkly intriguing story that is less about sex than trying to attain love. Dolan--portrayed with subtle melancholy by Katrin Cartlidge (who died in 2002 from complications of pneumonia and blood poisoning)--is too pragmatic to think she could ever fall in love with one of her clients. They are merely business transactions. What she wants is to have the unconditional love of having her own baby. When she meets a quiet cabbie (Vincent D'Onofrio), it's apparent that despite what they say to each other, their troubled relationship is based on desperation, not love. Director Lodge Kerrigan offers sparing insight into Dolan's past, just enough to make you concerned about her uncertain future. He doesn't try to make the characters understand whether they can accept each other, and he vehemently refuses to reassure his audience that everything will be all right. For moviegoers who have been conditioned by happy Hollywood endings, this can be a little unsettling. But that uncertainty--as in real life--is part of the beauty of this understated drama. --Jae-Ha KimSee all Editorial Reviews
- Audio introduction by Kent Jones (Associate Director of Programming, Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Scene Selections
- Booklet containing interview with actress Katrin Cartlidge and an essay by VILLAGE VOICE film critic Michael Atkinson
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Top Customer Reviews
Eventually she's sucked back into life as a prostitute but Elton sticks with her. Their sexual relationship starts out rather stiff and impersonal but gradually becomes more passionate as she comes to trust him, and he becomes increasingly obsessed with her and with trying to understand her sordid life. Meanwhile Claire's evil pimp (the fine Irish actor Colm Meaney, the only upbeat character in this film) isn't happy about her love affair and does what he can to interfere by playing Claire and Elton against one another.
Most of the sex in this film is cold, but there are two tender, passionate love scenes between the Claire and Elton which caused me to root for them as a couple. On the other hand, be warned that there is a scene between them toward the end which is a bit hairy. This film is definitely not for kids under 17.
"Claire Dolan" isn't a great movie as it is overly artsy, complete with perpetually frowning actors and monosyllabic dialogue. I found it rather hard to believe that businessmen would pay hundreds of dollars to sleep with Claire, who is so grim, pale and waifish that she seems better suited to a gothic film than an erotic drama. I recommend the movie for fans of Vincent D'Onofrio, as this is one of his better indie film performances; he proves here that he can do understated roles as well as he does the big, showy stuff. Female fans may find him exceptionally attractive here...great hair, guy's-guy wardrobe, big puppy dog eyes. It's certainly an interesting movie, despite its drawbacks, and many of its scenes have stuck with me.
We watch as Claire Dolan says and does whatever a man wants in order to have sex with them. She needs the money to pay off a debt she owes to this older man. This "friend" of her parents has been forcing her to prostitute herself to pay off a debt incurred by her mother's care in a nursing home? Scenes between these two characters are tense and the screen vibrates with violent emotions.
Claire gets the heck out of Dodge and runs away once her mom dies, hoping to escape and reconnect with extended family. Claire yearns for real intimacy and finds a relationship with another desperate soul. Then odd things start to happen and we are not surprised by the reappearance of the older man. He has tracked her down. This time we see the heartless violence of this man as he orders her back to work.
I cringed whenever Claire tried to forge emotional bonds. It was heartbreaking to watch Claire talk about her mother's death to a stranger who merely smiled at her. The sexual encounters are so cold or cruel. Especially the scene where a man professes to be repelled by her and the situation, degrading her verbally, and then pays to have sex with her. Claire's new boyfriend does not last long and easily moves on with his life, getting married and starting a family. This film is so bleak and shows the utter isolation of mankind despite any attempts to the contrary. Claire Dolan is one messed up woman and her solution of having a child so she too could experience love is a disaster just waiting to repeat itself.
I appreciate the director's view but I had problems with the huge mess left at the end. Why was this old man intent on ruining Claire's life? There is a vague reference to "knowing" her since age 12 but nothing is ever defined about their relationship. The whole plot hinged on this odd relationship but it was never explained. There is also the whole "Claire" and "Lucy" identity issue. Claire used the name "Lucy" when working but the boyfriend discovered two separate identification cards with seemingly different women in the photos. Are they the same person or does she have a sister? We do see a woman walk down the street that has the boyfriend staring hard. Is it the woman from the Lucy I.D.? This is left up to the viewer to decide. I thought it meant that we all have to potential to be different people but that might be the optimist in me and there is little room for happy thoughts in this film.
This movie ultimately left me frustrated by all the questions thrown out there but maybe that was the point? Life rarely provides answers.....