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Faithfull Drawing Raves For 'Irina Palm' Role

Singer and actress Marianne Faithfull plays a grandmother in dire straights who becomes a sex worker in London's seedy Soho, in a touching yet hilarious movie that has lit up a hitherto subdued Berlin

Singer and actress Marianne Faithfull plays a grandmother in dire straights who becomes a sex worker in London's seedy Soho, in a touching yet hilarious movie that has lit up a hitherto subdued Berlin film festival.

"Irina Palm" follows Maggie, played by Faithfull, from the side of her sick grandson's hospital bed to a sex shop where, desperate to pay for the boy's medical treatment abroad, she accepts a job where her smooth-skinned hands are a key asset.

Taught by a younger woman, she learns to service clients who stand on the other side of a wall with a hole in it where they can be heard but not seen. So legendary is her technique that queues of customers begin to form and a rival club seeks to poach her.

Much of the comedy derives from the horror etched on Faithfull's face as she goes to work, and the reaction of her straight-laced circle of friends when they discover what Maggie has been up to during the day. But it is also a moving film about how far people go for their loved ones, and where, if anywhere, we should stop, to do the right thing.

"You would do anything for your child or grandchild and we do and it's not always easy," the 60-year-old told a news conference, where she was loudly cheered. A packed audience also applauded warmly after a press screening today (Feb. 13).

"It's the sex trade. It's not fun for women," she added. "I've had friends who have worked in the sex trade, really good friends, and they're now dead. Our film doesn't glamourize it. We try to make it as real as it possibly could be."

Faithfull says she hasn’t “got any plans for a film at the moment” in the wake of “Irina Palm.” “I've got big plans for my next tour, which starts in Budapest. I do get offered a lot of rubbish [film work], and I turn it down."

But she has always had a love of acting. "If I hadn't got discovered [as a singer] at 17, I would have gone to drama school and studied acting,” she said. “If something comes that is really wonderful with people I would really love to work with, of course I'd take it."


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