Faithfull still looking for a role that rocks

Marianne Faithfull is famous for many things - rock siren, muse, narcotics consumer, a cat-scratch voice - but acting is not among them. Faithfull, game for anything, has long acted, though to little acclaim. Her performance in Sam Garbarski's Irina Palm will do little to change that.

The premise, so stupid that I apologize for sharing, is this: Dying adored grandson requires radical treatment in Australia. Expenses for travel and lodging total 6,000 pounds (That'd be $12,000 to you and me). Family has no money. Maggie (Faithfull), a 60-year-old widow, has no skills except soft hands. They make her superior at a certain sex act.

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Singer Marianne Faithfull stars as a widow with soft heart and hands.

In yet another contrivance, Maggie is incapable of fibbing, which means when not looking doleful over a cup of tea, she's forever running away from her family and bridge club.

It's the kind of dumb, little movie that the British we-still-snicker-over-sex film industry loves to produce, except that Irina Palm, despite boasting all of three dim locations, was made in Spain, Germany, Belgium, France and Luxembourg. Director Garbarski, master of the fade-out, is German. Miki Manojlovic, who plays Irina's boss and is the best thing in the movie, is a star of Serbian cinema. The incessant music, all three elegiac chords of it, is by Ghinzu, a Belgian rock band.

The movie is a mind-numbing 103 minutes, padded with the sort of interstitial moments that are boring enough in one's life, let alone on the big screen. Maggie travels to work, over and over again. Maggie climbs stairs. Maggie does laundry. Maggie packs a suitcase. Maggie stares out windows over cups of tea. Pretty hot stuff for a movie about sex.


Irina Palm * (out of four stars)

Directed by Sam Garbarski. With Marianne Faithfull, Miki Manojlovic, Siobhán Hewlett, Kevin Bishop and Jenny Agutter. Distributed by Strand Releasing.

Running time: 1 hour, 43 mins.

Parent's guide: R (sex, nudity, adult themes, overuse of fade-outs and cloying atonal music)

Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse


Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com.