‘When I was a little girl, my mama used to lock me in the attic when I was bad, which was pretty often. I would pretend I was a princess trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight on a white horse with these colours flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me. But never in all the time that I had this dream did the knight say to me, ‘Come on, baby, I’ll put you up in a great condo.’
Meet Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts in her breakthrough role), a beautiful redhead. Oh, yeah, she’s also a prostitute. So, when Edward Lewis (Richard Gere), a wildly successful businessman, takes a wrong turn on Hollywood Boulevard, she’s all too willing to help him reach his destination…. In exchange for a little cash, of course. Five dollars for directions, 20 to show him where the stars live. The price keeps going up.
Ok, maybe not then. But he does like her enough to ask her what it would cost to hire her for the entire week. Not for the purposes of the bedroom, I hasten to add (yiesh, now that’d be some workout!) but as an escort for social events. Sure, it costs him $3000 and access to his credit cards, but Vivian’s worth every single penny. Take those long legs, for starters. 88″ of therapy for a bargain price… amazing.
Anyway, obviously the thigh high boots, crop top and hot pants have to go. And the attitude. Step in Hector Elizondo, as the Edward’s hotel concierge who almost steals the show, with an intense lesson on dinner etiquette. That’s that taken care of but when it comes to dresses, Vivian has a few issues getting served in the first shop (see below clip 1) but then Edward comes along to save the day (see following clip 2), and she not only gets a dress for the evening, but a complete shopping spree. Thanks very much, Edward. Not such a bad gig, huh?
As you can see Edward’s stony exterior begins to melt away, and he even ends up taking her to the opera in a private jet, where he watches her as she is moved to tears by the performance. And then they play hookie from work, as we the viewer begin to realise the overall message weaved into the story (there is at least one in every film, you just gotta look for it), which is everyone can learn something from someone, it doesn’t matter who you are and who they are. Edward begins to see that all work and no play makes him a very dull, uptight and unhappy boy, while Vivian learns there are people who are willing to look at you from the inside out, and of course she learns how to be a lady (So, you see there are loads of messages in this movie, ‘opposites attract’ is another one… I could go on…).
So the pair spend one long day together and, bam, the game has changed, right about the same time Vivian’s BFF quickly begins to realise that Vivian has fallen for Edward, hook line and sinker. But how could it ever work out between a lowlife and one of the country’s most eligible bachelors? Vivian wants to know. But she’s not convinced at first, after all name one person it has worked out for…
*shrugs shoulders* Cinderella????
Most of you reading this would have seen this movie and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s witty, it’s bleak, it’s gritty, it’s dynamite, all in that order. For those of us who do sappy – and let’s face it, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably soppier than an episode of Peter Andre: The Next Chapter – it’s a modern-day fairytale. Sure, it’s a little bit more adult this time round, but why focus on the scullery maid when you can focus on the urban prostitute? Why have a white horse when you can have a white limousine? And, dear God, why have Prince Charming when you can have Richard Gere?
From the soundtrack (Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love is one of the greatest love songs of the 80s, and who doesn’t love Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman?) to the dialog, everything had been underplayed to perfection. I can, hand on heart, recommend this upscale princess fantasy to anybody. Even the most anti-romantic movie peep will find something to love in this film (for my Dad, it was Julia Roberts. Obviously).
And to quote a line from the movie to sum things up…’I appreciate this whole seduction thing you’ve got going on here, but let me give you a tip: I’m a sure thing.’
Too true, Vivian… too true.
By Kayleigh Dray