140 minutes, Sweden-Norway-Finland, Ireland, 2012, Colour, D-Cinema

Stockholm in the late 1970s, and Iris (Sofia Karemyr) is a wilful 14 year old living in a foster home. Her best friend is her cousin Sonja (Josefin Asplund), and the pair routinely sneak out at night in search of excitement. They soon encounter a seedy side of the city when they meet busy madam Dagmar Glans (Pernilla August), who cynically grooms the pair, aware that their youth will prove irresistibly attractive to her powerful, corrupt clients, and that she can use the girls for her own advantage.

It’s notable that Mikael Marcimain worked on the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as Call Girl shares a rigorous period aesthetic and a fascination with investigative procedure with Tomas Alfredson’s film. Based on an actual prostitution scandal that rocked the liberal Swedish government in 1976, this is a slow-burning and masterful debut feature of real depth and class.

(Notes by Michael Hayden.)

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