Tuesday, 27 November 2012
On the surface Linh (Nammi Le) seems like most other university students, but there is a catch: whenever she disappears, telling her friends she’s going to work at the library till late at night, she’s actually working. Working as a call girl, driven through Sydney from one job to another by a male driver and accompanied by a fellow girl from the agency specializing in oriental women.
Through snippets of Linh’s work, Linh’s studies, Linh’s social life and Linh’s family life we get to learn more and more about Linh’s situation as well as the message Careless Love is trying to convey. The work side is obviously of most interest, but it has to be said that the sex itself is never on center stage; it’s everything else around it that is. In other words, we get to see the before and the after, thus focusing more on the interpersonal aspects of Linh’s line of work and their effect on their personal. More specifically: this is not an erotic film.
From Linh’s student life we can gather Linh’s a pretty smart girl; we also get to think of religious issues her studies get her involved at. From all of her different lives combined we learn how hard the whole affair is on Linh, and when the different worlds collide we arrive at this movie’s climax.
I greatly enjoyed this low budget Australian made film. It is very well made, deals well with volatile subject matter, and leaves its viewer – or at least me – pondering. Watching Careless Love, I was wondering what the point of all the religious references were; however, by the movie’s conclusion things got obviously clear. Taken at face value, Careless Love is only a movie about a call girl's adventures; what it is really about is a discussion on society’s taken for granted family values. That is, Careless Love discusses the notion that a proper family is one of eternally loyal husband and wife with kids. The film challenges those perceptions on all front: we have a crook that is still a good father to his son and takes care of the mother despite being cheated by her and despite his love for Linh; we have Linh’s family, who won’t accept Linh's working as a model cover story due to promiscuity but will gladly use the money Linh ships home; we have social authorities, the police, chasing the working girls but letting them go in exchange for special favors; and so on and so on. Then, of course, there is the overarching religious frame to protect the traditional core family perception. Debunking that is the whole point of the religion references Careless Love chucks at us.
Best scene: There are many loaded scenes to pick from. I will go with the one where Linh arrives at a customer’s house only to find a bunch of young “kids” daring a rich friend whose girlfriend is away. The group’s various reactions to the concept of a girl not unlike them doing this type of work for a living reflects well on society’s approach to matters of sex.
Overall: A very smart film sitting in between 3.5 and 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.