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Monday, February 25


Claire Dolan is a rigorously designed and organized film that offers an excellent in-depth study into the concept of oppression. Claire, played by the impressive Katrin Cartlidge, works as a high end prostitute in order to pay back a debt, whose origins are never made entirely clear, to her pimp, Roland.  While Claire moves through the chilling atmosphere of New York's city's high rises, she performs her sexual acts with a cold, disengaged demeanor. The world created here is alienating and austere. The characters are in a state of perpetual conflict...overtake or be overtaken. Then Claire meets Elton, a sympathetic cab driver. The two fall in love and Elton promptly pulls together the money required to settle Claire's debt. 

If the movie ended here it might be considered a more sophisticated and intersting version of Pretty Woman- but instead of wrapping up- things start to unravel.  Elton begins to feel conflicted by Claire's history. When she becomes pregnant with his child he can't seem to accept her as a suitable mother. Roland, determined to break Claire, tries to convince her of her abnormality, debt paid, or unpaid, she will "always be a whore" he claims. Resolute, Claire aims to quit the business and have her child. The ending could  easily be considered the saddest and most brutal part of the film. What makes this otherwise painfully depressing film radically subversive is the clever way film maker, Logde Kerrigan, manages to avoid stereotypes. Instead, he creates a movie that speaks to the complicated contractions of how to exist within a demeaning  capitalist society.

Feminism kind of seems like a hot topic these days...whether people feel like it's an obsolete concept or in the midst of a rebirth, it still has the potential to polarize. Certainly, while I was watching this film, I could not  help but feel it was expressing some of the more involved notions of justice conceived of by second wave feminism of the 70's.  Take for example Susan Brownmiller's famous quote from Times Magazine in 1970.. "The goals of liberation go beyond a simple concept of equality." What Browmiller strove for was a transfiguration of society that included politics, business, child-rearing, sex, romance, housework, entertainment and academics. While Claire Dolan is not generally held up as the quintessential articulation of the feminist project it certainly provides an interesting place to start a conversation about women, society, sex and subjugation.  

Guest contributor Lisa DiQuinzio

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