A bespoke business that offers house cleaning and sex work for women is at the heart of this Australian comedy.
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The Australian comedy “How to Please a Woman” hinges on an amusing high concept: a company that provides house cleaning and orgasms for women. This hook piques curiosity — at least enough for a coy eyebrow raise. Light intrigue is often not enough, though, and in this case, the movie strains to sustain charm.
The story follows Gina (Sally Phillips), a middle-aged woman who is treated like cellophane by her husband and her boss. She escapes this contemporary feminine mystique through swimming, and the writer-director Renée Webster frequently depicts Gina fearlessly front-crawling in the Pacific with her swim club. After this convivial all-women crew sends a male stripper to Gina’s house as a birthday surprise, our housework-weary heroine gets the idea to launch a bespoke business.
Inspired by a real Australian sex work service, “How to Please a Woman” casts a clear eye upon the puzzles of female pleasure. Here is a movie that is thankfully under no illusions about the sundry ways to satisfy women, and its emphasis on communication above all is sensible (if safe) advice for viewers craving an answer to the arch title.
Yet there is a note of primness to Webster’s storytelling. Sex scenes are mostly ellipses that skip from foreplay to pillow talk, and when addressing more eccentric desires, the movie sometimes spouts a joke at the expense of the women it aspires to empower. Interrogating urges is worthwhile, but playing libido for laughs is one temptation this unsteady comedy would have been wise to resist.
How to Please a Woman
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.