Release Date: August 15th, 2007 (Film Forum) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Hermila Guedes, Maria Menezes, Zezita Matos, João Miguel, Georgina Castro, Claudio Jaborandy, Marcelia Cartaxo
Directed by Karim Aïnouz.
In Portuguese with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: Hermila (Guedes) returns to her small hometown with her infant son and becomes a prostitute.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Despite convincing performances, Love for Sale fails to truly engage with a meandering plot and underdeveloped characters. Hermila Guedes gives a radiant performance as Hermila, a 21-year-old mother who leaves São Paulo to visit her aunt and grandmother in a small Brazilian town. When boyfriend, her infant son’s father, abandons her there, she struggles to find a way to support herself along with her son. Soon enough, with no real skills, she turns to prostitution by raffling away tickets to local townsmen—when they ask what the prize is, she replies “a night in heaven”. João (Miguel), a man on a motorcycle, flirts with her and refuses to believe that she’s a prostitute. Everyone else, including her aunt and grandmother, disproves of her choice to commit such illegal, low behavior. Co-writer/director Karim Aïnouz does a decent job of adding realism through set design, lighting and even a slow pace. However, the plot often drags and the character of Hermila never truly comes to life enough so that you care about her. Her relationships with others, such as João or the boyfriend who abandons her or her family, don’t seem interesting or fully fleshed out enough. Aïnouz also ends the film in an awkward and underwhelming way. With a stronger, more focused script, this could have been as engaging and absorbing as Princesas, the foreign film from last year which successfully humanized prostitutes who merely try to eek out a living just like Hermila.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Often meandering with dull characters.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 8
IN A NUTSHELL: Hermila Guedes’ radiant performance along with exquisite cinematography don’t compensate for an often meandering plot with dull characters.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV
The "L" Menu