The Scorecard Review – SXSW 2012 film review

Scarlet Road

Director: Catherine Scott

The film follows the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele – people with disability.
(North American Premiere)

WHO’S IT FOR? If you are willing to have a sympathetic view toward educated sex workers and the disabled people they sometimes serve, then see this doc from Australia.

OVERALL

Call me crazy, but I like to see people happy. I know, it’s what separates me from you.

When I read the description of this film, I figured this is exactly the kind of movie a film festival is for. Rarely would I make time for something like this otherwise. I’m glad I did.

Rachel has done everything. That’s right, she’s had tons of sex and been paid for it. She even wears a shirt that reads “whore.” She lives in a world where sex workers are legal, and she constantly crusades for sex workers’ rights. This is a hurdle that will separate many from watching this film. But you should know, it’s never that graphic in language or visually. It’s actually a warm film.

My heart (your heart, everyone’s heart) goes out to people with disabilities. Half of Rachel’s clientele are people who can’t know the physical, sexual touch from another. When she talks about a non-profit brothel, it actually makes sense.

Ever since seeing the documentary Being Elmo I have noticed something we’ll call the “glazing over moment.” They briefly show you not everything is perfect. For Being Elmo is was when Kevin Clash talked about being divorced. Immediately you want to know more, since everything else seems so nice, but the documentary doesn’t go that way. It just glazing over the moment. For Scarlet Road, it’s the fact that Rachel has a serious boyfriend. I know, right? There’s also the point where Rachel goes on vacation and never knows when she’ll find herself “working.” What the hell does this boyfriend think? We don’t get to know. We do find out a good “working dress” is one that slides off, with no buckles or straps.

When Rachel is working with at the World Conference for Sexual Health, you realize we need more discussion on the matter. When she’s with a man suffering from cerebral palsy, your heart goes out to him and his family. Yes, it’s crazy to listen to a mother’s hope for her son to be with a sex worker. But it’s not insane. It comes from love. That’s what Scarlet Road does best. It shows people doing things out of happiness and love for others. Unorthodox yes, but when a man truly dreams of going to bed and waking up with a woman next to him, shouldn’t he have that chance?

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

March 13, 2012 4:00 am – Jeff Bayer

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