Home foreclosure meets hooker hell in The Client List, yet another entry into that ever expanding genre of recession blues cinema. Though this reality-based red state romp keeps the down ‘n dirty darker detours on the decidedly more satirical side, but always nicely laced with a sufficient side order of bittersweet and spicy.
Jennifer Love Hewitt revisits her Waco roots here as Samantha, a small town former homecoming beauty queen and current Texas mom and housewife. With her husband underemployed as a day laborer and an unscrupulous bank moving in to foreclose their home, Samantha, a trained physical therapist, signs on as a masseur in a nearby town. And at the shady enterprise known as The Kind Touch Health Spa, she soon discovers to her shock and dismay, that the jolly joint is actually a front for prostitution.
Though with back bills to be paid and the family poised to be tossed out on the street, Samantha reluctantly sticks with the unsavory sex work. Where the most unexpected of clients range from judges, to cops and clerics. At the same time, in order to keep her secret double life strictly undercover, not to mention her sanity intact, Samantha drifts into cocaine addiction, and worse. But blowing the cover of these high profile, pillar of the community customers, may yet hold the key to her exoneration and emotional salvation.
The Client List is a movie with plenty of bite and righteous girl talk. And targeting everything from those devious banksters and unequally applied sex worker penalties, to male hypocrisy in marriage and females suckered into the pitfalls of getting by in life on male approval and good looks alone.
Less convincing is a girlish Hewitt trying to pull off impersonating a domestic drudge with three demanding kids, and a hard drinking spouse going off the deep end to boot. And who is woefully upstaged by the more sensuously inclined Cybill Shepard as the family matriarch, herself once a dazzling beauty queen in real life decades ago (and Elvis Presley’s hot date too once upon a time). While Cybill, seemingly doing Mae West with raunchy one-liners that rarely quit, just about steals the show.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
2 1/2 stars