Portraits of Andrea Palmer tells the story of Andrea, a cam girl who is at her wit’s end. After having a breakdown while streaming, she is conned into moving to California to pursue “career opportunities” . She ends up being left high and dry and becomes an escort to make money to survive. She ends up getting involved with some fucked up people and doing some fucked up things until it all comes to a grim but satisfying end.
One of these days, I’m going to see a van with “free exploitation films” on the side and that’s the last time anyone will see me until I end up in a snuff film. I’ve gotten really fond of finding and watching films that make me uncomfortable for whatever reason. Portraits of Andrea Palmer definitely did that. Most of this movie plays like a hardcore porno for people who are into some weird shit. There are obviously un-simulated sex acts, cumshots, some pain play, and an enema all in the first half of the movie.
I can hear your thoughts, “Yeti, you’re supposed to be the extreme horror guy! How did something that played like a porno disturb you?” Well, Dear Reader, I’ll tell you. After the first couple fuck scenes, Andrea just kind of lays there like she has checked completely out. It’s like each time her body is used, she loses a little piece of her soul and it doesn’t take long for her to look like an empty shell. There’s no makeup or anything that does it, it’s all in her facial expressions and actions or lack thereof.
The acting in this movie about on par with a porno flick with the exception of the lead, Katrina Zova. Her dialog is pretty wooden but the way she brings out the despair in her character is something special. I have long been a fan of films that focus on the protagonist’s descent into madness and this is kind of like that. Instead of watching Andrea slowly go crazy, you watch her slowly lose her humanity until she is almost nothing but an object for those around her to use. I’ve never seen broken and soulless portrayed so well onscreen.
There are plenty of other things to like about this movie as well. It is shot on 16MM film and it that aesthetic really lends itself to the bleak subject matter of this film. The whole thing, from exteriors to close-up sex scenes to drug-fueled kaleidoscope scenes, is really well shot. The practical effects that are used in this movie are incredible. The ending of this movie was fucking incredible. It took a drastic turn for the brutal that I didn’t expect and the practical effects used for it were just plain awesome. Put it this way, the movie takes you on a depressing journey that includes a milk enema and when it finally brings on the gore, it is totally worth the wait.
I’m not saying I watched this movie at nine in the morning with a head full of edibles but I think there’s a deeper meaning to it. I really think this is a commentary on how the general public sees sex workers. Andrea is down on her luck, willing to do just about anything for money, has had her kid taken away, does hella drugs, and isn’t that bright. Seriously, the way she gets conned into going to LA is that some guy says she has potential and wants her number to discuss career opportunities. She thanks the guy and says she doesn’t give her number out for free to which he replies, “Just pick up the phone,” right before it starts to ring. On the strength of this interaction alone, she buys a ticket to the City of Angels and is super shocked to find that she’s been fucked over. That dumbass choice starts her on a path to becoming a soulless object. So many people in the general public see sex workers as a group of people who have lost all control of their lives and are to be at the same time pitied and reviled. I could be wrong, though. I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. In, fact I’m pretty good at it.
All in all, would I recommend this film? Man, I don’t know. If you’re into this kind of thing I would definitely check it out. It’s not something that will appeal to everybody but that’s okay with me. If you want to take a look at the darker side of the sex industry, here’s your chance.