Review: European drama ‘Sex Doll’ is a meandering take on a high-end call girl

Hafsia Herzi in the film "Sex Doll."
(IFC Films)

It’s hard to get too worked up over “Sex Doll,” a kind of anti-romantic drama with erotic thriller aspirations. Like the impassive young call girl at its moody center, writer-director Sylvie Verheyde’s London-set look at the shadowy world of high-end prostitution offers more possibility than payoff.

For Virginie (Hafsia Herzi), a striking French woman who works for an escort service run by the tough-but-tender Raphäelle (Karole Rocher), life is little more than a series of rote sexual — and not particularly sexy — trysts with mostly older Englishmen. She’s one of those “nobodies” going “nowhere”; where she came from — and how she got here — is minimally discussed.

Matching Virginie in the mystery department is Rupert (Ash Stymest), a wiry Brit with runway model looks and a jumble of tattoos, whom she meets in a nightclub. Turns out, they’re kindred spirits, outlaws in a way, who develop an uncertain, slow-burn relationship.

But a midpoint reveal puts Rupert and Virginie at odds, and lines are drawn. That is, until an out-of-town sex date that pairs Virginie and newbie escort Sofia (Ira Max) with a wealthy father-son combo goes bad and tests Virginie’s commitment to both Rupert and her profession.


Tighter pacing, more dimensional and compelling characters, and twistier consequences could have helped better propel this dark, semi-intriguing tale.


‘Sex Doll’

In French and English with English subtitles


Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes,

Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD

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