The Whore's Son

on April 28, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
The title of Austrian Director Michael Sturminger's "The Whore's Son" (adapted from the novel by Gabriel Loidolt) ought to have been "The Whore and Her Son," because the story is, in some ways, as much about the mother as it is the son. Silvija (Chulpan Khamatova) is a Croatian-born prostitute working in Vienna. When we first meet her, she's really only a child herself, nursing the newborn Ozren, whom the film follows through ages three, eight and finally about 16 or so. The issue at hand is Ozren's emerging awareness of what it is his mother does to earn their keep. An aunt and uncle who help raise the boy confirm his mother's story that she's a waitress, but the ruse is constantly upset by the men and working girls at the apartment house where they all live. Yet even the teenage Ozren has this lingering obliviousness about what it is that his mother does for a living.

Silvija, meanwhile, seems to be just as oblivious. She vacillates between doting mother and angry and belittling shrew. She maintains the claim of being a waitress even while wearing full hooker gear and a fur coat. It'd be ridiculous if it weren't taken so seriously. Not, that the word used most often in this film to describe what Ozren's mother does is the word used in the title -- whore -- which in itself suggests something about the psychological (if not social) perspectives of the author of the novel, if not the filmmakers. When that sort of judgment is made as early as the title, figuring out how the movie ends does not require a soothsayer.

At the center of all of this are the usual Freudian and Oedipal theories about sons and mothers, made all the more obvious when ones mother is a prostitute. In the end there is the traditional reckoning for the fallen woman, which is as uninteresting as it is expected. Starring Stanislav Lisnic, Chulpan Khamatova, Miki Manojlovic, Ina Gogalova, Georg Friedrich and Maria Hofstatter. Directed by Michael Sturminger. Written by Michael Glawogger and Michael Sturminger. Produced by Josef Aichholzer. A Picture This! release. Drama. German-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 86 min.

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