Call Girl

Sweden in the ‘70s was seen as a Utopian society around the world. With the emphasis on gender equality and liberation, Call Girl delves into the disturbing undercurrent lurking below the surface of the social reformation. Focussing on the Bordellhärvan, a criminal investigation in 1976 after the arrest of a brothel madam with several high profile clients, the film centres on 14 year old Iris (Sofia Karemyr) who is lured into the her seedy world. It is inspired by historical events and the revelations that have come to light in recent years, but goes a step further.

When Iris is placed in a juvenile centre, she’s never felt so alone until her cousin Sonja (Josefin Asplund) arrives. Their nocturnal excursions bring them to the attention of brothel madam Dagmar (Pernilla August). As they fall under the spell of her glamorous world, they begin to experience the downsides of such a life. When a scandal comes to light which threatens national security and to de-stable the political elite, it falls to one policeman John (Simon J. Berger) to pursue the case in the face of strong opposition from involved parties.

Call Girl splits into two stories: One strand follows the travails of Iris and her descent into drink, drugs and prostitution; whilst the other follows the political and criminal aspects headed up by John. As you’d expect, both often intertwine, the latter putting a historical and political timeline on the affair. The cinematography is beautifully realised by Hoyte Van Hoytema who worked on Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy alongside debut director Mikael Marcimain. They certainly bring the style and visual creativity of their former project to bear; Call Girl has a wonderful ‘70s aesthetic to it.

The acting is superb, especially from the young female leads. It’s a slow-burner of a film, continually cutting between both narrative strands which are both pulled together well to create a mix of taut political drama and descent into self-destruction. However, it’s a tangled web that would have possibly worked better as a series in the same vein as The Killing, but it’s an impressive and absorbing film which needs to be seen on the big screen.

Call Girl is out now at the Showroom