Her Way review | A refreshing take on sex work

Laure Calamy shines as a sex worker mother fighting for a better future for her son in Cécile Ducrocq’s Her Way.

Her Way (Blue Finch Film Releasing)


Sex work gets a bad rep in cinema. Most films about the industry are deeply rooted in traumatic representations of prostitution and the violence that is often associated with the job, and rightly so. 

Which is why Cécile Ducrocq’s Her Way feels so refreshing. A film that never questions the heroine’s choice of job. In fact, Laure Calamy’s Marie is proud of the work she does and she’s great at it, with many satisfied customers.

Marie has a steady stream of regulars but she also works the streets, approaching men, offering her services. Some accept, some don’t. Her son Adrien has just been kicked out of school and Marie is keen to get him into a fancy culinary school, but it’s pricey. Marie takes a job across the border in Germany at a club and brothel, but she is fast running out of time to make the deadline to pay Adrien’s entrance fee. 

Her Way Laure Calamy

On the surface, Her Way doesn’t do anything remarkably different to any other working class drama film. We’ve seen this story many times before; a struggling parent trying to raise funds for their child in order for them to have a better future. 

But Ducrocq approaches her story from an interesting angle. Her Way is as much a story about sex work as it is about motherhood and the combination of the two is exciting. Ducrocq was inspired by a real life prostitute she met who always had a photo of her son above her bed. Her Way feels grounded and realistic in its depiction of sex work, but it risks also turning a blind eye to the real life violence many sex workers face.

While it’s refreshing that no one forced Marie into this line of work – there are no evil fur-coated pimps – Her Way also comes across as slightly naive in completely ignoring the darker side of sex work. Her Way is expanded from Ducrocq’s own short which had a slightly different plot that consisted of Laure Calamy’s character becoming threatened by an African prostitute coming on her turf.

I can’t say I’ve seen the short, titled Back Alley, but from the synopsis available, as well as Ducrocq’s treatment of race in the feature – the only Black character is shown to be volatile and aggressive – it makes for an uncomfortable watch. 

Her Way (Blue Finch Film Releasing) (03)

Yet Calamy is excellent. Her performance is nuanced and she injects Marie with humanity; she’s not a tragic heroine, but a desperate, funny, angry and loving mother. Calamy carries the entire film on her shoulders as other characters come and go without leaving much of an impression, becoming just bland faces on the screen.

This is Ducrocq’s first feature and, at times, it shows. Perhaps the film is more interesting for the themes it explores than it is good for the quality of filmmaking. Ducrocq focuses so fiercely on Marie that she often fails to create a believable world around her. Adrien, played by Nissim Renard, especially comes across as one-dimensional. Renard plays him with a simplicity that doesn’t register as earnest but as shallow. 

Her Way has a lot going for it and I am deeply in love with the characterisation of Marie herself. I just wish the film around her was a lot stronger, but Ducrocq shows admirable potential and courage as a filmmaker.

Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Her Way in cinemas 26 August

Leave a Reply

More like this