Girl$ follows four girls who turn to prostitution through the internet for various reasons. Icy, the leader of the group, sells herself to support her deadbeat boyfriend, Gucci sells her virginity for an expensive handbag, Ronnie is a rich girl who sells herself out of boredom, and Lin sells herself in hope to find true love. But unlike that other more well-known movie about a prostitute, this one also exposed the dangers that these women go through. These working women of different status, profession, and principles are facing numerous challenges and obstacles in their everyday working lives. This movie does a good job portraying the realness factor.
I’d like to say how tough it is to make a film about teenage prostitution. It could be easy if you just want to draw in audiences with lurid sensationalism, but we’re talking about a director who shied away as much as he could from smug, patronizing depictions of troubled teens in a teen/sports drama, and LGBT people in a food/cooking comedy. At any rate, Girl$ is far more watchable than I expected. My only grouse is that the stilted Mandarin dubbing literally robbed the film of its rich Cantonese street slang. Take some plot points already touched upon by various films through the times, set it into today’s context and the problems with young girls knowingly entering into such a trade, and you get a film that could have potentially done a lot more to raise awareness, EVEN if it portrays real life accurately.
There is no question that Michelle Wai is the pick of the actresses on display. Her ability to be vulnerable is amazing, but it is her natural screen persona that enables her to deliver a character and something the audience can somewhat identify with. One of the big drawbacks was that although the lead character did evolve, she did so with incongruent leaps. In addition, the film possesses an extremely daring display by Taiwanese actress not only bares for all to see, but created life within her character and the reasons behind her becoming. However the same cannot be said for Bonnie Xian and high schooler as both pale away in comparison.
It started off with a humoristic touch and went to a bit more drama, and even some emotional scenes.. I really sympathized during those scenes. I was surprised, because I didn’t think this movie would stand out the way it did. For me personally the expectations weren’t all that big, I thought it would be just another sort of light slapstick comedy. But it offers a very good story and characters you actually begin to sympathize with. There is an attempt to spice up the script with a subplot about a serial killer preying on teenage sex workers, as well as by introducing elements of IM and the internet. Girl$ will probably never win any awards, but in depicting the vibrant sex industry of Hong Kong, it is at the very least starting a trend.