Stockholm, late 70's. The model utopian society. But under the polished surface, other desires are eager to be fulfilled. Within a stone's throw of government buildings and juvenile homes lies a world of sex clubs and strip shows. A young girl is recruited from the bottom rung of society, into a ruthless world where power can get you anything.

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Light and dark battle for equality.

by Eloy Domínguez Serén

Stockholm Film Festival 2012: Along with Searching for Sugar Man, Call Girl has all the ingredients to make it one of the most mediatised Swedish films of the moment. Its lavish and crowded European premiere as part of the opening ceremony of the 23rd edition of the Stockholm Film Festival, where it is one of 20 films in the official competition, provided a good opportunity to test these high expectations.

After becoming well-known in Sweden as a director of successful television series, director Mikael Marcimain has taken the leap into cinema with a risky and controversial project inspired by one of the biggest political scandals ever witnessed in the Scandinavian country. Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten's screenplay is based on a controversial case in the 1970s, in which several ministers, politicians and senior officials from Olof Palme's government were named by newspaper Dagens Nyheter as being regular clients of a high class prostitution ring that exploited underage girls.

The film is set in 1976 with two parallel stories that switch between different spheres of the time's Swedish society, during the final weeks of a decisive electoral campaign. The different characters and events revolve around the figure of Dagmar Glans, the powerful "madame" vigorously played by Pernilla August. This charismatic and troubling procuress catches girls in trouble for the prostitution ring she runs to then offer their sexual services to affluent businessmen, celebrities, and high-ranking politicians.

Call Girl's complex plot thus blends several cinematic genres, from political intrigue to crime thriller, via teenage drama and social protest. Marcimain himself describes the ambitious project as "a personal social thriller about Sweden in a time of sexual liberation and confusion".

Beyond its suggestive plot, one of this film's main virtues is the impressive recreation of the atmosphere of change in the air in 1970s Stockholm. It was a time of light and shadows, of transformation and questions about equality between the sexes and progress in women entering the workforce, but also one during which some tried to introduce dubious legal modifications with regards to sexual crimes. Lina Nordqvist and Michael Higgins' meticulous production design and the efficient cinematography of Hoyte Van Hoytema, who was also director of photography for the successful Let the Right One In (2008) and The Mole (2011), contribute to this considerable setting.

Translated from Spanish

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Call Girl

Thursday 31 October, 12:10AM on SBS VICELAND

MA15+
Sweden, 2012
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime
Language: Swedish
Director: Mikael Marcimain 
Starring: Sofia Karemyr, Simon J. Berger, Josefin Asplund
What's it about?
Stockholm, late 70's. The model utopian society. But under the polished surface, desires are eager to be fulfilled. Within a stone's throw of government buildings and juvenile homes lies a world of sex clubs and strip shows. A young girl (Karemyr) is recruited from the bottom rung of society, into a ruthless world where power can get you anything.

Details

MA15+
2 hours 15 min

Genres