By Liz Casanova
Starring Briana Evigan, Kerry Norton, Darcy DeMoss and Nadine Crocker
Written by Patrick Chapman, Andrew Hanson and Alissa Kokkins
Directed by Patrick Chapman
Running time 1h 33min
Selig Film Rating Matinee
Hollywood has done a nice job of creating this fantasy that sex workers have a glamorous and fairytale life. They end up meeting dashing, handsome and rich patrons and ride off into the Beverly Hills sunset in their Lamborghinis. Perhaps that happens sometimes. But the reality is more like the dark and brutal drama played out in the indie film ToY. ToY is the complete opposite of the Pretty Woman story.
Two women find each other as a result of the troubled lives they lead. Chloe (Briana Evigan) is in the middle of creating an artistic photo piece compiled of broken women (with the exception of a trans man) and agitates them with personal questions. These creatures are beautiful but have sad eyes. Suddenly, one of the models grabs her attention. Her name is Kat (Kerry Norton) and she is an older prostitute with an English accent. Kat is kind of a bitch. She immediately puts Chloe in her place and confesses the realities of being a sex worker.
Kat is also agitated. But she continues to work with Chloe because the money is too good. There is a physical attraction. But as they spend more time together chipping away at the guarded veneer, they find comfort in each other and things get a little more serious.
ToY is a love story and it's heartbreaking. Because that's what real love stories are – riddled with heartache. Besides all the outside forces that keep these lovers apart, there are the internal struggles and the walls put up by their insecurities. Chloe is not innocent by any means. But she is very child like. She needs the comfort and care of a strong woman. Kat is hard. But she craves the tenderness that embodies Chloe.
The strength of the film is the bold performances. Evigan is gorgeous on screen, and it's not only because she is physically beautiful; she is all in. She is the lost soul pining for her lover. Norton is graceful despite her character being a prostitute, though there is a grittiness underneath the elegance. She can go from high class to stripped down and vulnerable, and we believe it. At least I did.
The film looks good too, especially when Chloe is working in the studio. The music choices are also thoughtful. There is a song by Jesca Hoop called City Bird that is worth a listen.
The only issue I have is that the film at times is a bit over the top in the melodrama. And the relationship between Chloe and her dad is a bit one dimensional. It's the only relationship in the film that doesn't feel real. However, it shouldn't deter from watching. It ended up being a great choice for the Women Texas Film Festival.