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Released: Aug 26th, 2011
Running Time: 148 Min.
Director: Graham Travis
Company: Elegant Angel Productions
DVD Extras: Behind the Scenes, Bonus Footage, Bonus Scenes, Interviews, Outtakes, Still Gallery(ies), Trailer(s)
Cast: Manuel Ferrara, Eric Swiss, Alex Gonz, Zoey Holloway, Alan Stafford, Richie, Danny Mountain, Jessie Andrews, Alec Knight, Ramon Nomar, Eric John, Darla Crane, Mick Blue, Jay Crew, Bill Bailey
Critical Rating: AAAAA
Jessie Andrews stars as Elle, a call girl haunted by her past. Through a series of liberating sexual experiences, she is able to unlock the doors to her own secrets and confront the darkness that she has been running from.
A riveting tour de force of adult cinema, Portrait of a Call Girl, directed by Elegant Angel’s not-so-secret weapon, Graham Travis, is adult moviemaking at the highest echelon. Beautifully shot, expertly acted and sexually scintillating, the movie serves as the perfect vehicle for Jessie Andrews to showcase her considerable talents. Andrews gives a bravura performance in the best adult film this reviewer’s seen all year.
It’s fortunate that Andrews is able to summon the full breadth of her innumerable skills as an actress and a sex performer because the movie sinks or swims on the viewers’ ability to connect with her—to sympathize with her, to be captivated by her journey and to be aroused by her.
Andrews plays small town girl Elle. Haunted by her past, which the viewer is led to believe was traumatic, or uneventful, or both, it’s clear she’s desperate to break away from the vast landscape of nothingness surrounding her to search for a meaningful life.
The movie opens with Andrews playing coy about her past to a psychologist, sweetly demurring to open up. As she talks, the scene shifts to the barren wasteland of the hometown she’s trying to escape. Through voiceover we learn that she feels isolated, unloved and in search of herself—common feelings of many 19-year-olds.
In fact, you could say many aspects of Andrews’ character minic her own real life. Moving from Florida to L.A. to find herself in the porn industry at 18, this is an intensely personal journey for Andrews too.
As Andrews narratation ends, we see her emerge from a gas station bathroom beaten and bloodied, demanding all the money her boyfriend, Sam (Alec Knight), has and instructing him to never contact her again. And so her journey begins…
Andrews lands on the seedy hooker stroll in downtown Los Angeles, an unforgiving climate for even the most seasoned streetwalker. Leaving the street behind to function as a high-end call girl booked for private appointments, Andrews meets her first john at a swanky private high-rise.
Andrews’ considerable acting chops bubble to the surface here. Her face is alive with a quiet, intelligent emotion; her eyes sear with a knowing truth that belies her years. There’s no false movement or emotion here. Andrews is fully in the moment.
Andrews’ new vocation affords her a leisurely lifestyle and plenty of free time. We see her buying an expensive bracelet, crying at the movies, quiet moments in her car and reading a book at the park while a haunting score plays, underlining the depths of her journey while acclimating herself to her new surroundings in the big city where it’s easy to be swallowed whole.
A luminous natural beauty with a kewpie doll face, lithe body and green eyes that sparkle with emotion and convey a depth of feeling, Andrews needs to carry the movie sexually because she’s the only one having sex in it. Her character’s sexual experiences as a call girl—from her scalding hot scene with demanding client Manuel Ferrara where she completely surrenders, to her b/b/g encounter (where she briefly does double-vag), to a six-man blowbang, all fit seamlessly within the story’s continuity. Andrews proves to be a quick study and a powerhouse performer, willingly succumbing to her johns' desires. She can be anything you want her to be.
It’s at the beginning of the scene with Ferrara that we begin to understand the importance of these sexual encounters to Andrews’ character. We don’t witness the perfunctory act of putting on the lingerie Ferrara’s given her for their session; we see Elle’s genuine self discovery of this new sexual experience as she slowly gets dressed, admiring this new feeling in the mirror, awakening something dormant inside her. Through these experiences she’ll not only achieve financial independence, but also learn more about herself than she ever thought possible.
While she may just be a little paranoid thinking a car is trailing her, Andrews comes home later to find her apartment trashed. Panicked, she makes sure an important item is still there: an old baseball card taped to a duct. We learn this valuable card was stolen by her boyfriend from her stepfather after Andrews discovered him cheating on her mother.
After cops come to question her about the card’s whereabouts, Andrews lights the card aflame, the last vestige of her unremarkable past eradicated.
Finally, Andrews has grown enough to tell a friend about her past: her dysfunctional family, how poorly she treated her boyfriend and the self-destructive path she was on. We find out that her boyfriend Sam didn’t beat her in that gas station bathroom; she beat herself—to show him how unworthy of his love she really was.
In the end, she repays Sam what she stole and walks her own path towards an uncertain future, but one in which she’s more sure of her place.
The consistency in tone of POACG is remarkable. Tightly edited, the movie doesn’t follow an all too common feature’s paint-by-numbers approach—the stopping and starting of hasty dialogue that has little depth and achieves no real purpose but to lead to the sex scene. Here, the story unfolds naturally with impeccable pace and timing; there’s no corny lead-in lines that prompt the sex to commence. The dialogue isn’t glossed over as a means to get to the fucking—it plays an integral role in character development—something rarely heard of, nor achieved in the porn world. When was the last time you could say you saw a character develop and grow in a porn movie?
Disc two contains a plethora of extras including behind-the-scenes, two Andrews bonus scenes, outtakes, deleted scenes, interviews, a soft movie cut (minus the sex), Andrews’ camera test and a podcast.
While we expect many more great performances from Andrews as one of the industry’s newest bright, shining stars, if this remains her finest hour, it’s one for the ages. Tremendous work by Travis, exec producer Patrick Collins and the entire Elegant Angel crew. Bravo!