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The Pink House

Australian, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Carmel Galvin is extremely houseproud. Every morning, she diligently dusts all the fixtures of her abode in anticipation of guests arriving. The fact that her home is a brothel, her fixtures are sex toys and her guests are johns looking for a good time may sound surreal, but it’s all in a day’s work for Carmel in The Pink House, a documentary from Sascha Ettinger-Epstein.

Prostitution is technically illegal in the state of WA, but that hasn’t stopped Madame Carmel’s brothel, Questa Casa, from being an integral part of Kalgoorlie for 100 years.

Working alongside her is BJ, the brothel’s longest serving sex worker. When we first meet the pair, as they potter through their nights patiently waiting for customers, there’s an air of Grey Gardens about the set up. (BJ even appears to be dressed as Little Edie at one point.)

What makes The Pink House so fascinating to watch is that it doesn’t try to sugar-coat their existence with attempts at titillation, instead it revels in the normality of their existence.

The Pink House touches upon the outside influences that are impacting business for Questa Casa, from the internet to sex trafficking, but, like Ettinger-Epstein’s previous film Destination Arnold that followed two indigenous bodybuilders, it’s the relationship between these two women that engages the most.

Carmel’s surprising amount of prudishness brings about a lot of the documentary’s humour, but the heart of the of the piece belongs to BJ, who regularly drops out of employment with Carmel due to a long-standing drug habit. Things become exceedingly darker when she becomes involved in a horrific murder. Throughout it all, Ettinger-Epstein wisely never judges her and when BJ eventually opens up about her family, it pierces through the frivolity.

The Pink House is a celebration not just of stoicism in the face of adversity, but also a portrait of the familial bonds that can form between two strangers in less than average circumstances.

Screening as follows:

NSW Leichhardt- Wednesday November 1st

QLD Brisbane- Wednesday November 8th

ACT Manuka- Wednesday November 8th

TAS Hobart- Wednesday November 8th

VIC Melbourne- Wednesday November 8th

WA Churchlands- Wednesday November 8th

SA North Adelaide- Thursday November 9th:

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Dogs Are The Best People

Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders and Tom Zubrycki paved the path for author and philosopher Mary Zournazi to turn documentarian with Dogs of Democracy.
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What if it Works?

Australian, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

Technical genius Adrian (Luke Ford) has OCD, which appears to have swallowed his life up wholesale after an unexpected break up. Holed up in his apartment, which is in a continuous cycle of cleaning, his only real escape is tearing around in his car at high speeds. When he meets Grace (Anna Samson), a painter with Dissociative Identity Disorder, the pair seem destined to be together. But only if they can overcome Adrian’s fastidious habits and Grace’s predatory personality.

Giving the leads of your romantic comedy mental health issues is tricky ground to navigate. Jokes built around your characters could be seen as laughing at them, rather than with them. Additionally, in the pursuit of true love, there’s a certain danger of downplaying their daily struggles. What if it Works?, from first time director Romi Trower, not only tackles these issues, it does so with success.

It helps that Trower writes Grace and Adrian as fully developed characters, rather than tropes wrapped up in human skin. They are not drawn to each other because they’re ‘outsiders’, other ‘normal’ characters, such as Adrian’s ex (Brooke Satchwell), are shown to have their own issues to figure out. Instead, we see a genuine affection brewing between the pair in the brightly shot painted laneways of Melbourne. All of which is further bolstered by humanistic performances from Ford and Samson that steer clear from pantomime. Samson, in particular, does a fair amount of heavy lifting as Grace and her several personalities.

Whilst What if It Works? may not have the most complex of plots and secondary characters do seem light on exposition, this simply gives us the opportunity to enjoy the company of our heroes. And considering how touching and big-hearted that company is, it’s completely worthwhile.

Click here for nationwide movie times for What If It Works?