When Linh, an Australian Vietnamese university student, starts moonlighting as a prostitute, she tells herself she can keep her two lives in separate compartments.
Three nights a week she works as a call girl, telling friends she is studying late in the library. To her parents she pretends the money she gives them for the mortgage comes from her earnings as a model. To her lecturers she is the bright student who yawns her way through classes.
It’s only a matter of time before her worlds collide and she has to face the pain and humiliation she has caused to herself and those close to her.
Careless Love, director John Duigan’s first Australian film in nearly two decades, deals sensitively with the topic of prostitution, neither glamorising it as in films like Pretty Woman nor lingering on its sordid aspects.
Vietnamese-born Nammi Le, who plays Linh, is a star in the making. She has beauty and charisma and gives a great performance as the student/call girl, portraying her as innocent and vulnerable, strong, witty and likeable. We might not approve of what she is doing but we can’t help hoping she can get away with it.
And all goes well for a while. Her clients include a mysterious American (Peter O’Brien) – painter, art dealer and former mercenary – with whom she develops an unlikely friendship. He worries about her and warns, “You’re a good juggler, but you’ll get caught out eventually.”
Linh pushes her luck to the brink when she falls in love with a fellow student, Jack (Andrew Hazzard) and agrees to move in with him.
This is a beautifully filmed movie which raises many moral and ethical issues surrounding society’s changing attitudes to sex, love, marriage and prostitution.
Careless Love is showing at Cinema Paradiso