Call Girl

Film Title: Call Girl

Director: Mikael Marcimain

Starring: Sofia Karemyr, Simon J Berger, Josefin Asplund, Pernilla August, Anders Beckman

Genre: Crime

Running Time: 140 min

Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 00:00

   

Despite being distinctly overlong and more than a little muddled, it’s not hard to see why Mikael Marciman’s Swedish epic is being distributed in these territories. Give credit to our endless appetite for Scandinavian crime and our continuing taste for 1970s conspiracy dramas.

Call Girl follows Iris (Sofia Karemyr), ward of a children’s home, as she is lured into prostitution by a charismatic madam named Dagmar Glans (Pernilla August). It transpires that the police have Ms Glans under surveillance, and Iris soon finds herself embroiled in a potential scandal.

The creepy, overpowering Dagmar services the perverse needs of various important men, including the justice minister, but corruption and timidity impede the police from pressing home their case. One man is, however, prepared to fight the power. Detective John Sandberg (Simon S Berger) shrugs off beatings and intimidation in his crusade to reveal the truth to the nation.

Call Girl is not short of period detail. Recent works such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the Red Riding trilogy have had grim fun with this brown, side-burned version of the 1970s, but Call Girl goes that bit too far and drags us into parody. This is stunt period dressing, the stuff of Vic Reeves sketches and insurance commercials. The film also suffers from cuts made after the family of Olaf Palme, the murdered Swedish prime minister, objected to his being implicated in the largely fictional scandal at the story’s heart.

All those moans registered, Call Girl does have the momentum of a high-end TV drama. The cast is uniformly excellent and the film-makers’ palpable disgust at the governing hypocrisy adds real pungency to the piece.

We were, at the time, all told that Sweden was a sort of liberal democratic paradise. In recent years, the nation’s writers have worked hard at dismantling that myth. Maybe everywhere really is as dreadful as everywhere else.