December 20, 2021
Fortysomething sex worker Sascha falls for twentysomething Maria, but a visit to her home town forces a reckoning
Bliss review – Berlin sex worker falls in love with new girl in no holds barred drama
Henrika Kull’s intimate movie is set in a real-life legal brothel in Berlin. Katharina Behrens plays fortysomething Sascha: a good-natured, easygoing veteran who brusquely calls herself a Nutte, a “tart”, rather than the official term Sexarbeiterin, or sex worker, and she periodically makes tense visits to her home town of Brandenburg to see her 11-year-old son from a previous relationship. She is more or less happy with her life – until suddenly she falls passionately in love with a new girl at the brothel, a twentysomething Italian called Maria, played by the performance artist and former escort Adam Hoya, who as Eva Collé was the subject of the 2019 documentary Searching Eva.
Bliss may or may not illuminate the “sex work is work” debate: certainly, Sascha and Maria’s day-to-day experience of the oldest profession is, frankly, unproblematically depicted and prostitution itself is not made an issue in dramatic terms in the same way as Lizzie Borden’s 1986 film Working Girls. New customers can ask to see all the Women in turn and they must line up in the brothel’s corridor in their underwear to be formally introduced to the man before he makes his choice. Payment is in cash – maybe the men don’t want unexplained items showing up on their statements. Maria is stashing hers away in a rail station locker, and she leaves sad, affectionate voice messages for her widowed father back in Italy.
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