Joselyn Jensen possesses a Greta Gerwig quality as Malorie, a student composer turned call girl in Stephan Littger’s beautifully observed film, HER COMPOSITION.
Neither tarty or tantalising, Malorie enters prostitution in a chance, matter of fact way so as to ensure she can pay her rent and tuition at a prestigious New York music academy.
Her live in boyfriend has taken to seeing someone else and her scholarship is shipwrecked by a latent but inherent sexism in the school.
From crotchet to crotch, she makes men quaver as she hits the high notes of high class escorting in a brilliant subversion on sexuality and feminism, a Joan of Arc painting the New York subway and weaving those images into a soundscape, a concerto of her experience as a sex worker.
Writer director Stephan Littger composes a nifty narrative in four movements, a pictorial capriccio incorporating a symphony of characters and situations, some harmonious, some full of discord, but all orchestrated and conducted under the baton of an artist in full control of the various instruments in use here – actors, cinematography, sound and music.
Situation, setting and tone is at times reminiscent of Noah Baumbach, but Littger has his own compositional quirks that rescue him from too close a comparison.
The four movements follow the inspiration she finds becoming an escort, with her new composition drawn as much from the city as from her clients, each of whom are fairly unique in their identity.
Her first client is a ‘romantic’, with perhaps fifty shades of grey. There is indeed something discernibly shady, for sure. Starting with him, Malorie then makes her way through the rest of the more varied clients.
Then there is the client who ‘likes tights’, not on Malorie; he is the one that likes wearing them. And the nautical naughtyman who sings ‘row, row, row your boat’ to her.
HER COMPOSITION challenges regimented norms, of the moral boundaries between right and wrong, and flips the notion of the male gaze so that the clients are caught in the glare of the female gaze.
Stephan Littger’s editing choices and shooting style exemplify Malorie’s inner life, the creative juices secreting into her work, defying expectation. The film starts in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1, a traditional size for television, then after the first “movement”, the ratio reverts to a wider format to encompass the bigger picture of Malorie’s widening experience and the flood of inspiration it unleashes.
HER COMPOSITION screens Weds 23 November Chauvel, Paddington, and Weds 16 at Norton Street, Leichhardt as part of this year’s German Film Festival.