“Agony of Love” (1966)
Think “Klute” without the nonsense murder plot or “Belle de jour” without the surrealist subtext and both made without a hint of artistry and you will probably see much that is recognizable in William Rotsler’s “Agony of Love”, the portrait of a prostitute in crisis which is also the story of a housewife who is a prostitute in crisis.
Stuck in a loveless marriage, Barbara Thompson (Pat Barrington) finds solace in keeping a separate apartment in which she becomes a growing concern in the sex trade, luring clients there for an afternoon of mattress frolics in exchange for a fistful of cash. But rather than acting as a remedy for her feelings of emotional alienation, her activities result only in silly amateurishly filmed dream sequences and subsequent trips to the local psychiatrist whose manner of analysis suggests a surrender to professional mockery. Barbara’s therapy sessions provide sparse insight with a long, long road traveled to arrive at such revelations as she is searching for love (One can’t help but suspect a great deal of bill padding is afoot.) nor does the film provide satisfying dramatic closure (if that is what one seeks in such a picture) with a nasty concluding twist that is so predictable and telegraphed so far ahead that surely the only people in the theater surprised at the developments would be be the characters onscreen (though it does explain the unconventional but promising noirish opening sequence to which the film elliptically returns, but with diminished results).
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