LIFE AFTER DIVORCE

4 Stars
Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 60 minutes
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“Life After Divorce” should have been one of the worst documentaries ever made. For example, the front of the DVD jewel case includes the quote, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, the present is a gift.” Not a good start. The film’s description on the flip side only adds to the fear. “This documentary is based on the experiences of one man, Chris G. Georgas, who after his divorce discovered Costa Rica. The beautiful country, and the working girls (prostitutes) there.”

What?

A documentary about the aftermath of divorce that involves prostitutes and Costa Rica? Okay. Unconventional. A good chance of being disastrous.

First, you have to get the idea of this being a true documentary out of your head. There are staged scenes and the whole thing plays out more like a travel video/rant/defense statement. That said, you also have to relieve yourself of the notion that this film will suck. It is actually one of the most honest, surreal “documentaries” you may ever see.

What makes this film so incredible is the interviews with johns and prostitutes and their thoughts on working girls, economics, love, American women, relationships and so on. This is candid, though it has a really nice spin on everything that the more observant viewer will see through instantly, and it is revealing in some surprising ways. Let’s start with the men.

Various males, including Georgas, talk about what life is like with American women, who always accuse them of cheating, take advantage of them, and don’t appreciate the hard work these men engage in so that their loved ones can have a good life. Georgas in particular tells how he raised his ex-wife’s children as if they were his own, and how she accused him of sleeping with other women. He’s angry but also admits to missing a solid relationship and having children greet him every day.

Other men interviewed speak of how pleasant the Costa Rican women are, and how they don’t make a lot of demands of them and seem to actually care about and respect them. (Crazily enough, one man interviewed, who looks a bit like Larry Flynt, says that the prostitutes he’s been with may be good actresses, but he thinks they actually orgasm! Delusional? Most likely, but at least he believes he’s a sex machine.) These men also think of themselves as helping prostitutes because, while prostitution is legal in that country, the other job opportunities are still almost non-existent. These men feel good about the fact that they are giving these ladies the opportunity to put food on the table.

At its very base level you can see that these men want women to be subservient, and they like going to poor countries to exploit a bad economic situation, though they may not realize that is what they are doing. That’s too easy, however. What these men seem to have trouble saying is that they want to be loved, and they want to have sex, but they don’t want the “troubles” that often come with empowered women. If women just let men be men, all would be okay. Ironically, the Costa Rican prostitutes think American women are smart to divorce these men and get all their money. That’s not all they have to say, either.

The prostitutes each have a bit of a different take on things, though they all seem to like Georgas (no surprise, as he seems like a nice guy and is also the main force behind this film). They admit that some johns are nasty people and that they are often scared for their safety. They also would sometimes rather be dancing and hanging out with friends, but are forced, for one reason or another, to pursue this occupation. It’s a bit sad, but you can also see that the women seem to have no illusions about what they do, and none of them seem to be supporting a drug habit (which may be due to those aforementioned acting skills or selective casting).

I’m sure the intent of this film was not to raise any serious issues, but to shed some light on a venue available to men while at the same time boosting the tourism economy of a country Georgas obviously loves. He may be oblivious to what he has accomplished, but it is just short of brilliant. If women really want to know what far too many men are thinking, they need to see this, and if anti-prostitution forces want to get an honest look at things from the other side of the fence, this is, for lack of a better word, important. One thing is certain: it sure beats an MSNBC special on the subject.



Posted on September 8, 2009 in Reviews by
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