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Hardcore (2004)

Director: Dennis Iliadis
Starring: Katarina Tsavalou, Danai Skiadi, Ioannis Papazisis
Released by Strand Releasing

"A Tale of Two Hookers", Greek-style.

The film begins in a low-rent brothel run by a sadistic pimp named Manos (Andreas Marianos)--who recruits teenage runaways from newspaper ads promising easy money. Manos is a vile character, but he seems to fairly lucky when it comes to job applicants; his stable is populated almost exclusively with people who look like they could have wandered in from a Calvin Klein underwear shoot. His latest recruit is sixteen-year-old Nadia, a clever and energetic young woman who quickly becomes the brothel's most requested hooker. Martha is quiet, introverted, and a year older than Nadia. Martha resents the new girl; Nadia is pretty and popular with the johns, and Manos treats her better than the other girls. The two women eventually form a friendship, which then becomes love. The two hope to escape their less-than-glamorous existence, and take the first step by renting an apartment together. When they are not partying with their male prostitute boyfriends (who both also work for Manos), they are busy working, in one grotesque sex sequence after another. The girls get a very ritzy, high paying gig servicing a roomful of wealthy clients--which Martha ruins when she picks the wrong moment to declare her love for Nadia.

After a very nasty confrontation with Manos, Nadia hatches a scheme involving a gun and a very improbable photoshop job which ultimately transforms the women from lowly prostitutes to media darlings. While it seems that they have realized their dream of finding a better life, the tensions that attracted the women to each other in the first place begin to resurface. Without a common foe, the women begin to turn on each other. Nadia relishes her new found fame. Martha spends her days dreaming of family life. The women cannot move forward until one submits; a realization which drives one woman to act in an extreme, if somewhat predictable, manner.

HARDCORE: Eye-candy

This is a great-looking movie that owes a major visual debt to modern music videos and American indie films. Grimy scenes of hooker life juxtapose nicely against more sensitive, almost naturalistic moments. Director Dennis Iliadis even throws in a sitcom-style dance number. But all the eye-candy in the world can't mend the film's biggest problem - it lacks substance. The film's leads are engaging and believable, but you never really connect with them, nor do you sympathize with their plight. There are beautiful scenes and there are extraordinarily ugly scenes in this film, but they do not mesh together well enough to give the film the depth that it is striving for. What we end up with is a very well-made, well-acted movie about pretty people doing ugly things that leaves you cold.

Needless to say, the film is loaded with explicit sex and violence. But what else would you expect from a movie called Hardcore?

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