Flip through the back-page ads of this paper and you will find that the business of sex takes myriad forms. Such is the premise behind Whore, a strange hybrid of fiction and documentary, in which verité-style interviews with real-life prostitutes working mostly in Europe are woven through a made-up story featuring a stunning 24-year-old virgin in Los Angeles. As Rebecca (Denise Richards), a graduate student in anthropology, finds it harder to make ends meet, she draws closer to her neighbor Adriana (Daryl Hannah), who earns good money in the world’s oldest profession. Adriana’s lifestyle seems to hold the key to Rebecca’s financial problems, but whoring doesn’t come easily to the childlike Rebecca. The fiction here seems an afterthought, tacked onto the interviews with practitioners, from streetwalkers to luxury call girls to the Eastern European pimp who claims that “half the girls in my country are bought and sold.” (Though director Luna talks to a couple of gigolos, she avoids any mention of men servicing men, a glaring omission.) The subjects can be amusing, chilling, or tragic—but in the end, they offer few surprises.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 7, 2004