A young naïf searches for her father, eventually turning to prostitution in order to find him. While that premise seems prime for pure icky exploitation, Toys Are Not for Children finds nuance and tragedy in its off putting premise – while still not forgetting to deliver the sleaze.
Toys’ most important creative decision comes in the building of its main character, fully committing to her naïveté without succumbing to the gross archetype of the so-called “virgin whore” that sometimes dominates 70s sleaze. Our protagonist truly is naive, with no real desire for sex in any way – the prostitutuon is simply a means for an end, the sex much beside the point for this woman stuck in true arrested development. While this makes the sexual danger preyed upon her that much more upsetting, it also gives her quest a poignancy and purity that makes the eventual, inevitable conclusion much sadder than a knowingly sexualised version of character could have allowed. She really is a child searching for her father – and the film allows the central father complex to speak for its own inherent disgust.
Pulling this tape together is a thoughtful flashback structure wherein time compresses on itself, repeating past and future, falling back on itself, highlighting the futility and inevitability of staving off adulthood for the false innocence of prolonged childhood. Surprisingly thoughtful and absolutely worth watching.