Most of us have clear cut idea about how to deal with sexual infidelity from a partner. Take our Editor for instance who, along with his wife, were invited to what they thought was a dinner party only to find the other guests were wife swappers. Not as bad as his wife thought it would be as she was lucky enough to swap her husband for a new fridge – freezer (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). For Alice (Emile Piponnier) a French housewife and mother who shares a small flat with her husband and young son bought with an inheritance from her father. Loved up and happy with her little family Alice is about to find her life ripped apart when the bank tell her that they are foreclosing on the flat as the mortgage payments have been missed for more than a year and the bank will auction the flat. The reason for the mortgage debt lies with her husband who rather than make his repayments has been making deposits elsewhere namely with the employees of an escort agency where, amongst other things being blown, is Alice inheritance.
Having located the escort agency her husband has used Alice manages to persuade the bank into giving her some time to look at financing the debt before possibly foreclosing. With her husband having disappeared and un-contactable she has to fend for herself to keep a roof over her and her little boy’s head. As the agency won’t speak to her on the pone she goes along to a recruitment drive which she attends to find out just how much he’s been spending there and she befriends Lisa one of the escorts who works for the agency. Desperate times call for desperate measures and having been a housewife she needs money fast and tentatively takes a job as an escort with the agency. Alice is understandably anxious and nervous as she meets her first client having been instructed by Lisa as to what to do leading to some awkward comedy as she fumbles with a condom in her mouth. As her confidence grows so does her income and she manages to get her finances back on an even keel and her flat safe.
Director Josephine Makerras carried out much research with real life escorts and it’s the work-life balance where she has to drop everything (so why she wears underwear is anyone’s guess) when a client books her and in the middle of the night the now single mother has a young child that needs a babysitter leading to awkward scenarios for her to explain to anyone she wants to dump the child on. Inevitably her husband comes crawling back looking for forgiveness and reconciliation. Emilie Piponnier has something of the Brittany Spears about her and though she doesn’t dress up a school girl its hardly a surprise that when her husband returns she hits him one more time. But it’s the temptation to get back together with the adulterous Francois that drives the rest at of the film. Whether she can forgive his adultery, particularly when he is so pasty faced he could get skin cancer just by opening a travel brochure, is her quandary? There’s an especially good scene when he finds how she is earning money and there’s a bitter irony as he doesn’t want her to work as an escort when she gets a late night call smacks of the shoe now being on the other foot. It’s a scene that teeters on the edge of exploding into domestic violence.
A low budget French language film this is a simple yet engrossing study of sexual politics, feminism, family and forgiveness and is relatable for anyone who’s been wronged by an adulterous partner.
Here’s the trailer for Alice…….