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Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00

Call Girl (18)

Film
by Jeff Sawtell

Directed by Mikael Marcimain

Set in Stockholm in 1976 Call Girl is a topical reminder of the hypocrisy of many who claim to be our political minders and moral guardians.

It's based on events that led to the Social Democrats losing their parliamentary majority, despite promoting policies advancing women's liberation and sexual enlightenment.

The reason was that the politicians and police were privately employing prostitutes - including underage girls - in a brothel opposite the Riksdag (parliament) building.

It's Mikael Marcimain's debut feature after being second-unit director on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and he's evidently skilled at conjuring conspiratorial intrigue and period detail.

However, the first two-thirds of the film focus on the experience of Iris (Sofia Karemyr), a 14-year-old delinquent confined to a foster hostel for nonconformity.

She sneaks out at night to have some fun with her mate Sonja (Josefin Ashland) where they are espied by Dagmar Glans played by Pernilla August.

Invited to parties and seduced by substance abuse, they're groomed by a mature matriarch who can switch from a mother to a monster when discipline is called for.

Much of the film is taken by showing Iris and Sonja turning tricks until becoming disillusioned by the abuse.

Not that Glans and her creepy minder should care - they serve the police in a quid pro quo and are brazen to the point of hubris.

Such public displays start attracting attention and prompt an inquiry which those involved seek to stall, until some surveillance tapes arrive on the desk of an honest vice cop played with conviction by Simon J Berger.

Realising that they've been edited he wants know why? Further prevarication forces him to dig deeper and run the risk of ruffling the feathers of those who have everything to lose.

This is the ugly underside of the glittering age of Abba, picturing the Prime Minister on TV talk shows promoting a feminist agenda.

The political parallels to the post-Savile scandal are obvious, showing how many ordinary people get caught up covering up for perverts bent on self-gratification.

Still, while the media concentrate on the celebrities, they ignore the years of post-traumatic stress suffered by children supposedly in state care.

Another compelling Swedish political drama with a surprising conclusion.

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