FRIDAY, SEPETMBER 7, 2018 -- In 2001, Nelly Arcan, a French Canadian prostitute from Quebec, wrote an award winning novel named Putain (translated Whore) that was a best seller in France and Canada. Although she never said it was an autobiography, the book paralleled many aspects of her life in the sex industry.


Director Anne Edmond cast French Canadian actress Mylene Mackay as Nelly in this very engaging biopic that tells the cost of not life in the sex industry, but the cost of the fame that ensued from her best selling books.

The film chronicles her tragic life from a teen to her untimely death at 36 years focusing mostly on her sexual addiction. We see how she stepped into the heavily regulated Canadian sex industry to her interactions with fellow sex workers and customers and her constant battle with personal demons.


She wrote the books as her own form of self therapy only to reveal it was the exact opposite effect. Her only true happiness was when she was serving in some sexual capacity; except one session that got far too rough. There are humorous moments that also define her psychos. The best is when she attempts to seduce her therapist (Marc Beland).


Mackay is perfect in the role of the extremely beautiful Nelly as she seduces the camera. Francis Leplay portrays her devoted publisher Mathieu who does his best to help her fight her inner demons. MickaŽl Gouin plays Francois, her cocaine addict boyfriend who uses her until she is used up.


Emond manages to complete flesh out a troubled but complete Nelly - from childhood to death - in a beautifully shot, compact 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes) though the film stalled for a year in its delivery to US screens.


"Nelly" soars as a disturbingly engrossing biopic of an anti-heroine who is deliciously complex and self-destructive, yet was surprisingly popular. [In French with English Subtitles]   -- GRADE B+ --   GEOFF BURTON