The Movie Waffler New to VOD - HER WAY | The Movie Waffler

New to VOD - HER WAY

her way review
A mother attempts to raise her son's college fees through sex work.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Cécile Ducrocq

Starring: Laure Calamy, Nissim Renard, Romain Brau, Sam Louwyck, Béatrice Facquer

her way poster

I’m not sure who first said it, but there’s an axiom which states a meaningful existence is comprised of two external factors: a job which you enjoy, and an appurtenant social group. One wonders how the glib simplicity of the homily squares with Marie’s, the central character in Cécile Ducrocq’s - writing duties shared with Stéphane Demoustier and Jacques Akchoti - superb Her Way, daily. A sex worker in Strasbourg, with a delinquent teen son, this single mother has a professional life which is at best unreliable and fatally prone to fluctuating market forces, while her kid (Adrien - Nissim Renard) is a rebel without a clue. Adrien has aspirations to become a chef, but his restless attitude has seen him expelled from several colleges - miraculously, an offer comes in from a Cordon Bleu style school to take him. Problem is that the training doesn’t come cheap: can Marie (Laure Calamy, ace performer and ace Stockard Channing lookalike) raise the funds to give her son the opportunity to realise his dream, and, implicitly, achieve her own personal redemption? With Marie approaching a prohibitive forty, and the French authorities squeezing the breaks for sex work, it’s going to be tough. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Marie has no choice but to play it her way.

her way review

With Marie and Adrien’s vocations involving, respectively, extra marital sex and cooking, between them they’ve got the national interests of France covered. And Marie is really good at her job, too. Not just the sex, but the administration, the ‘bedside manner’: she keeps a journal wherein she jots down details of her clients - ‘premature ejaculation... married’ - to best tailor their experience. And they say people don’t want to work! Which makes it especially poignant when, like an athlete at a certain point, the natural span of Marie’s career is coming to an end. This is an inevitability further catalysed by the influx of underground sex workers: desperate immigrants who will go cheaper than Marie and her established ilk.

her way review

The representation of sex work in Her Way is both multi-faceted and fascinating. From Marie’s Brexity response to her economical competition (‘they’re stealing our johns’!), to the hypocrisy of the government’s punitive regulations (at an organised protest the women chant, ‘You sleep with us, you vote against us!’), in her depiction of the business, Ducrocq is level-headed, non-judgemental and interested in the occupational minutia. Later, as Marie works unfamiliar territory to increase funds, there is an incident of rough sex: a staple trope of this sort of narrative, usually utilised as a third act obstacle but which is presented here simply as an unpleasant but unavoidable feature of the job. Furthermore, in its portrayal of sex itself, Ducrocq manages to make it seem fun and attractive (as it would for the client), but also rote and flat at the same time (all in all, this is Marie’s job) - quite a feat (SPOILER - a plot aspect which irks is that a final act conflict does occur when Adrien suddenly discovers his mum is a brass. Seeing as she’s been seen interviewed by TV cameras articulating her issues with legislation, and how he has hitherto never seemed to question Marie’s odd working hours, the revelation feels unrealistic and too plot convenient. Maybe the development disappointed me because until then I just assumed that her son was refreshingly accepting of Marie’s honest graft).

her way review

As the film continues, and the window of opportunity for Adrien’s application gets tighter, Her Way eschews the perhaps expected dynamic of Marie subjecting herself to further degradation to make pay. The humiliation is of a different kind, as Marie has to keep up with younger and hungrier workers, and sacrifice her independence for the governance of a brothel. Can anyone blame Marie for a late-plot noir temptation of a happened-upon wodge of cash? After the careful and pointed development of character which the story builds (Calamy and Renard are both great), the film’s swerve into thriller territory is heightened. The tight and compulsive plotting of Her Way is riveting, as are its shifting moralities and deep humanity.

Her Way is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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