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Fifty-seven dollars will buy you two hours with one of the women who work at the Fishtank, a Vegas-slick Bangkok bordello. Its name derives from the plate-glass window behind which employees sit while prospective customers eye them and decide whose services they want.
The women at the Fishtank punch in on a time clock and are provided with stylists. The sense of desperation in Faridpur is palpable. Later we see her mother styling her hair. God, or at least religion, is a thread running throughout the film. There are Buddhist altars at the Fishtank.
Several of the Reynosa streetwalkers refer to the White Lady of Death, a figure in Mexican folk religion, and have tattoos of her image. Religion is otherwise absent from the Zone, where cars and trucks and SUVs slowly prowl up and down the unpaved main street.
Glawogger has the good sense mostly to stay out of the way and let the material speak for itself. Some of the scenes almost seem staged, the participants are so oblivious to the camera.
The one time we see one of the women engage in sex with a john is unnervingly explicit — but even more unnerving for the sense of complicity it indicates between viewer and participants. Nothing, though, is as unnerving as the matter-of-fact comment of one of the prostitutes at the House of Joy. Mark Feeney can be reached at mfeeney globe. A Mexican streetwalker.