This month, I had the opportunity to attend the UK premiere of Bizhan Tong’s The Escort. I had a great evening in the Karma Sanctum Hotel’s screening room, amongst fellow critics, fans and the cast and crew. It was an intimate screening which made the whole experience even better. A huge thank you for inviting me to this screening, it was a pleasure to be there and to speak to those involved in the making of The Escort. One of my favourite things about screenings is getting proper insight into a film, and this was no exception.
Before even seeing the film, we learned that it had won several awards at independent film festivals overseas, so I was excited to learn why. Turns out, the film only features two actors and one location throughout the entire duration, which already presents a challenge and a lot of responsibility for actors. When you’re dealing with both these factors, you have to work harder than usual to keep audience interest. I’m pleased to say that I thought both Olivia Moyles and Kevin Leslie shone in their respective roles, and delivered some seriously captivating and emotional performances throughout the narrative. I am very keen to follow their careers and see what they get up to next!
Leslie arrives at Moyles’ house, claiming he intends to use the hour he’s bought from her to convince her to stop being an escort and pursue something ‘better’. Whilst this synopsis may seem patronising and even degrading, I can assure you it’s not. Instead, the film presents us with two strong arguments and doesn’t spoon feed you an opinion. It’s up to you to decide what you think, and listen intently to everything both characters are saying. It’s a very dialogue-heavy film that sucks you into it’s narrative very quickly, as you become a witness to this lengthy debate between two characters. It’s a fascinating look into the world of escorting, and modern sexual politics. Whilst often an uncomfortable watch, it’s captivating throughout and I was fully invested from start to finish.
Cinematically, it is a very good film considering its independent nature. I loved a lot of the shots and stylistic choices throughout, and whilst it was a little flawed in places, I am impressed with what they managed to achieve overall. A lot of hard work has gone into The Escort and it shows. Instead of opting for copious amounts of nudity and graphic content, the camera simply shows us two people having a discussion as they move around an apartment. This may come as a surprise given the title of the film, but the overall message is far more important than graphically showing this line of work. Instead, the audience is encouraged to build their own pictures through the use of words, and your imagination takes over throughout the film… not always in a good way.
The Escort is a respectful, thought-provoking and emotionally charged look into the world of modern escorting. It’s a film that really makes you think about what you just watched, and encourages you to agree or disagree with certain points that are being made. Tong’s script is very impressive, and seeing it come to life on screen is an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon. If you get the chance to see this, please do, as I would love to know your thoughts and interpretations. It’s a film that can spark a huge discussion, that’s for sure!