Although director and co-writer Sam Garbarski takes great care in tracing this difficult dramatic path (he has to balance the twin tracks of other people's morality and Maggie's personal course), he can't avoid the predictability.
Tonally all over the place, pic is built around a would-be humorous script, but jiggery lensing and gloomy lighting suggest helmer Sam Garbarski is under some delusion that he's making a slice of gritty realism with romantic undertones.
At first blush, it seems like another entry in the saucy-but-safe Brit genre, a la Calendar Girls, Saving Grace or The Full Monty, but it turns out to be both more ambitious and less successful than those diversions.
There's little new in terms of the plot's bold strokes. But the details and minutiae keep Irina Palm fresher than it would have been otherwise -- along with Faithfull's low-key performance, turning her rasp from jaded to shy.
Director Sam Garbarski must like his early Neil Jordan and Stephen Frears, since Irina Palm plays like a throwback to gritty-but-softhearted English dramas of the 1980s like Mona Lisa and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid.
Garbarski combines social satire, hand jobs, feminism, and romantic grace to create a tenderhearted tale of found love and female empowerment. And he actually pulls it off, give the guy a hand. On second thought...