Film review: Call Girl (18)


Stockholm, the election year of 1976, and beneath a new program of apparent liberalization the powers that be still exert an insidious grip.

Mikael Marcimain's impressive debut investigates society from top to bottom, starting with 14-year-old runaway Iris (Sofia Karemyr) and her friend Sonja (Josefin Asplund) landing themselves in a prostitution ring run by mumsy procuress Dagmar (Pernilla August). Her clients turn out to be businessmen, civil servants, government ministers, who will close ranks once the police begin to sniff the rot.

Marcimain's time as second-unit director on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011) pays dividends in the super-precise reconstruction of 1970s Sweden, from the dreary beiges of decor to the heartbreaking puppy-fat of the teenagers and the terrible bedrooms that become their cages.

An extraordinarily sinister atmosphere of hypocrisy and corruption spreads like damp up a wall: this is a society in freakish denial. The film would benefit from at least half an hour of cutting, but its sympathy for the most vulnerable – and abhorrence of their exploiters – make a compelling watch.