Wednesday, August 29, 2012

London Girl (On Billie Piper)

Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Really? Belle de Jour? Instantly back to one Catherine Deneuve, but this one’s different. It’s Twentieth First Century London and this Belle has no problems with a perhaps repressed childhood, Christianity and masochism tendencies. She’s a woman who decides to become an escort mainly because she enjoys sex and the money is really good (if only things were this easy on regular bases, but anyway), this is her reality. She takes no time in presenting her world to us. Her world includes two sides, Belle and Hanna’s, though they’re really the same, which is something questioned throughout the entire seasons. It was interesting enough for me to keep watching.

Belle speaks to us, she tells her world to us breaking the fourth wall, I am not the biggest fan of this approach, but I got used to it because you soon realize this woman is really pleasant, she’s likable, intelligent, knows exactly what she’s doing, what her circumstances are, she’s not trying to pretend to be someone else, she’s really not, it’s her choice. You can see that in the final episode of season one, when she chooses to stay in her own flat, in her own terms and decides to do things by herself. 


Second season brings new characters, new challenges, especially in the department of relationships, which will be also part of the main plots throughout the rest of the seasons, which I really hoped it wasn’t. Bambi is a younger girl who’s just entering the escort world, and more than being a comic relief and setting a different state of whoring, she is someone that helps seeing who is Belle/Hannah is all about. Personally, she did that to me. I really got to her, to understand her ways and I really liked her. Now in terms of Belle quitting her job, which was part of her, therefore part of who she was, to be with a man, wasn’t part of my favorite explorations. Second season was different in many ways from the previous, for once Billie was pregnant and it was also pretty clear has her breasts grew bigger by each episode. I should mention Ben by now, her relent and always present friend who is clearly attracted to her. 

Third season had two opposing sides. It was to me the mature timing of the series, everything seemed to feet accordingly and it was just the funniest times. Belle had reach her success as an anonymous author of the secret life of a London call girl, she was enjoying her research for literary material as much as we the audience were enjoying her adventures and misadventures. She had found a stable so to speak confidence and respect in her own secret career, both of them. The honesty was at its core I guess, even if those questions of a secret life and her professional job, about being able to reconcile work and pleasure all at once still aroused her. She thought she would find in her editor the seemingly right balance, except that she found the exact person to whom comes the closest to her clients, except that she knew and had to face this one’s dishonesty. Too conveniently dramatic or not, that finale scene of Belle and the editor,  where they are fighting about each other’s dignity, she comes out of it as a really strong, intelligent and dignified woman to my perspective, that’s why this could be my favorite season. They had captured one of this story’s moral points, which is the dignity of a hooker. I like when Bambi comes to Belle’s apartment after her fight about race with the boss and Belle doesn’t want her inside because her sister is there and she’s like, “It’s because I’m black?”, and Belle responds, “No, it’s because you’re a whore”. 

Belle working on her literary material...

Ok, so the other part of this season was perhaps the growing mess outside Belle’s, because Belle was always consistent, always made sense. But for example, they totally forgot about her sister’s son and that messed with my brains, every single time she would appear. In the second episode of this series she gives birth, so, you know, I thought they would eventually maybe just mention the kid or something, but no. 

Season four took a whole new approach and it was my least favorite, actually. It’s like they didn’t had time for anything, the whoring part with the clients, her other life as Hannah/Belle, it was a mess. Characters suddenly didn’t fit their previous beliefs. I guess conflict was just badly written, they went with the easy known way outs. There was no such thing has continuity. Belle would be wearing this elaborated as fuck clothes in one scene and the next one would be wearing yet another mind fuck clothing set that she couldn’t possibly had the time to change; the same goes with the makeup, sometimes we couldn’t see her face, again continuity to the garbage. It was excruciating to watch the New York segment, too. 

They also took the last season to go on every cinematic road they wished. There was fixed camera a la Requiem for a Dream, there was spaghetti a la Tarantino, there was cut split screen and whatever. One thing it wasn’t that disappointing was the crazy road of fucked up clients, it went to a whole new mess too. Even the new male character they wrote to once again question Belle’s take on a relationship with another man was hopeless. The approach was soulless, the intentions didn’t fit and it just needed to end. Music was also much more present, and Adele made the end of it, with her 'Someone Like You'.  

This precious minute. The best part of the entire finale season.
"Is that in the script?" Oh, Billie, that laugh!

Only someone absolutely committed to this would be able to do something as reliable and as entertaining as Billie Piper did and not only was she great, it also seemed she really enjoyed playing this character. And her faces, her reactions to the many different things her character would have to face were often hilarious. I loved when she would turn to us and just say the simplest of the sentences, “What the fuck?”

This is never an easy topic, both in writing a story and the reality of it, in its reception and in making it; especially to the actors involved it takes courage. But they took risks and made it.


It is so good when I look at this character, Holly, and I see nothing and no one else but Holly. No Billie, no Belle, no Rachel. That’s where she scores, Billie. One of the things, if not the biggest, I found so interesting about her, it’s like every time I see her it’s like her face changes. It’s true that I haven’t seen enough of her work but I’ve seen enough to conclude this, she changes quite a lot and there’s nothing that feels as good as this, for a fan. I loved that she became one of the most refreshing surprises from the acting spot. I gradually came to knowledge her subtle but absolutely committed work she did in True Love, she was great, and I think she’s really great. She’s lovely; she has such a lovely voice. She gain one faithful admirer.


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