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  Call Girl Swedish Scandals
Year: 2012
Director: Mikael Marcimain
Stars: Sofia Karemyr, Simon J. Berger, Josefin Asplund, Pernilla August, Anders Beckman, Sven Nordin, David Dencik, Hanna Ullerstam, Sverrir Gudnason, Maria Alm Norell, Lena B. Eriksson, Jade Viljamaa, Julia Lindblom, Eddie Hultén, Tobias Ekelund
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In 1976, there was a general election in Sweden, and the socialist government were pushing their policies of equality for all, but also a more sexually liberated legal system which would see certain acts, formerly classified as abuse, decriminalised, including the lower age of consent. Many saw this as evidence of a more free thinking society, but what if there was a more sinister purpose behind the nation's most powerful men being so keen to allow more leniency in the sexual laws? For fourteen-year-old Iris (Sofia Karemyr), now destined to spend the rest of her teenage life in a care home, was about to be caught up in scandal...

In Sweden it was known as the Bordellhärvan, a scandal which nearly took down a government but even in modern times is still obscured by obfuscation and cover-up, so that the events depicted in director Mkael Marcimain's debut feature, after extensive experience in television, were still controversial since apparently nobody could really prove one way or the other what had actually happened. That the Prime Minister Olaf Palme was involved was not something many Swedes wanted to hear, as he was much respected in that country, not least because he had been assassinated by dark forces, a murder still unsolved to ths day.

So when this movie came along claiming Palme had been serviced by underage prostitutes, and indeed had encouraged the other members of the ruling party and their business allies to take advantage of these girls as well, it was the source of a minor uproar, with Palme's son suing the filmmakers and eventually reaching an agreement that scenes featuring the P.M. would be toned down, though presumably Marcimain was satisfied his claims were now on the public discussion table and when people saw his efforts it would be the seventies government they would have in mind as carrying out this conspiracy. He followed two main characters into this web of deceit, Iris and the investigating inspector Sandberg (Simon J. Berger).

But mostly Iris, for it is she who hears from two of her fellow care home residents that there is easy money to be made if she and her friend Sonja (Josefin Asplund) accompany the girls to a hotel room and do as the man they meet there says. This involves taking a drink or two and taking their clothes off, dancing all the time; Iris and Sonja are amused by this, not apparently twigging that there might be someone behind the large mirror in the room watching them with lecherous intent. Soon the madame Dagmar (Pernilla August) has been introduced to them, and they are having sex with male clients over twice their age. Now Iris especially is presented at first as a sullen teen whose preferred facial expression is an insolent smirk, so it's not initially clear whether we should be blaming her or not.

That feeling doesn't last as we realise the girl's exploitation is not something any person of that age should go through, no matter how independent they thought they were the fact remains an underage call girl ring is far from healthy, and as the film goes on she grows more ill-looking, the drugs she is supplied with not helping. Where were the social workers? You may well ask, and there is one at the home, Mona (Hanna Ullerstam), who eventually realises what is going on, but this is where it gets frustrating as the powers that be move to cover up the impending scandal that Sandberg is about to expose, and the plot becomes a kind of Swedish All the President's Men only with a far less happy outcome. Marcimain and his team were pretty blatant in their excoriation of a government that many thought were the good guys, and this disillusionment appears to have fuelled a great degree of anger on their part. That it offers no solutions - now we know, what exactly are we supposed to do about it? - doesn't make it less compelling, though a sense of futility endures and the extensive nudity seems hypocritical. Music by Mattias Bärjed.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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