Review: ‘Sex Doll’ Starring Hafsia Herzi, Ash Stymest, And Karole Rocher

The synopsis for Sex Doll seems intriguing.
“A high-priced call girl navigates the shadowy world of London's sex trade underground in this provocative, erotic thriller. Virginie goes about her work as a prostitute with a cool detachment, trading sex with wealthy businessmen for money, but never getting emotionally involved. That all changes when she meets Rupert (Ash Stymest), an enigmatic stranger with unclear intentions. Risking everything, Virginie plunges into a dangerous affair that tears her between a ruthless madame who forbids romantic attachments and a dark, sexy man who could be her savior or her downfall.”
That sounds, “interesting” right?  You can almost imagine a Basic Instinct type of film, layered with suspense, drama, sex, and possible violence.  Unfortunately, director Sylvie Verheyde (Confession of a Child of the Century, Stella) doesn’t quite accomplish what she set out in this film.  The film doesn’t give much suspense, nor does it thrill.  In fact, it kind of shows how boring the life of a high-priced sex worker could be.

The titular character Virginie (Hafsia Herzi) just simply sleepwalks through life as a high-priced call girl having sex with wealthy men.  Because it’s not “street level” we don’t see the danger of pimps, drugs or anything like that.  Although we do see a brief moment where our mystery man is driving and runs into a few prostitutes on the street, but for the most part, we are in the world on fancy dinners, mansions, and boring, boring sex.  Kudos to the director for actually showing Virginie’s sex as a boring activity, not only for her, but for the audience as well.  Usually, in films with some sort of erotic activity, it’s titillating and exciting, not in Sex Doll.  It operates almost as anti-porn.

Virginie spends most of the film with the same somber, bored mood throughout.  That changes (sort of) when she meets a mysterious stranger Rupert (Ash Stymest) who starts following her around.  They friendly flirt, but him showing up all over the place is at first borderline creepy and he's a stalker.  He must have her tagged or something.  Slowly he starts to wear her down with their frequent meet ups, and the two begin a platonic friendship that blossoms into a romantic one.  He does harbor a secret later on in the film about his real reason for stalking her that gives a little bit of a payoff, but not really.

The film doesn’t know if it wants to be a love story, or “something else” as it makes a strong C-change in the third act that seems to come out of nowhere.  The reveal of why the film is called “Sex Doll” also comes out of this same sudden change in tone of the film, and doesn’t really work with the first two acts of the film.  It seems the change is for no other reason than to show you the dangers of prostitution as Virginie faces peril from both her clients and her Madam (Karole Rocher) that requires her prince charming to help her out of.  Overall, the film a little lackluster as it moves too slowly, is rather anticlimactic, ad depressingly not an erotic thriller.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5