Call Girl

No, Call Girl is not the sequel to last year’s big bag of hate For a Good Time, Call…nor is it the long-awaited big-screen adaptation of ITV2’s Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It’s actually a new Swedish political thriller that’s based on true events.

Call Girl

Set in the 1970s, Call Girl is a fictionalised account of a real sex scandal which involved government ministers, officials and civil servants. Pernilla August creepily plays the appropriately named Dagmar Glans, a madam who finds underage girls to sleep with these politicians.

What elevates Call Girl above the usual conspiracy movie is the way it fleshes out all its characters, particularly the young Iris who’s living in a juvenile centre before she becomes embroiled in the scandal. This sensitive storyline makes Call Girl as much a drama as it is a thriller, and Sofia Karemyr plays Iris brilliantly. Some of her scenes are suitably uncomfortable; unlike this year’s Paul Raymond biopic The Look of Love, this film could not be accused of glorifying the sex industry and neither does it demonise it – the only judgement falls on the politicians who claim to be advancing women’s rights whilst actually exploiting young girls.

Call GirlIt’s well directed by Mikael Marcimain, with some interesting photography; it shares a cinematographer (Hoyte Van Hoytema) with the occasionally comparable Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The 1970s setting is similarly well produced, with a cool period soundtrack and electronic score. But despite this ’70s backdrop, Call Girl feels eerily current; the phrase “bunga bunga” springs immediately to mind (as it seems to on a daily basis), with these sorts of allegations plaguing the premiership of Silvio Berlusconi and officials the world over.

Problems arise with regards to the film’s length. At two hours and twenty minutes this is a long film but also an unevenly paced one; it speeds up and slows down in such a way that our attention is somewhat tested. It doesn’t help that the story is perhaps over-complicated, with little explanation as to who’s who. It feels like there’s a great movie in there somewhere, but what we get is simply a good one. But good it is, with its impressive design, strong acting and universal message about government hypocrisy.

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