The Sales Girl Image

The Sales Girl

By Josiah Teal | June 14, 2024

In the Mongolian feature, The Sales Girl,  Saruul (Bayarjargal Bayartsetseg) is a shy college student hoping to become a neuroscientist, but that path is more her parent’s choice than hers. After her friend Namunna breaks her ankle, she asks Saruul to cover at her job while she heals up. Saruul has to be secretive about her new employment, as it involves working at a local sex shop. When Saruul meets the elderly owner, Katya (Oidovjamts Enkhtuul), the two form a fast friendship as they navigate love, loss, and loneliness in the risqué retail industry.

Katya and Saruul’s connection begins with a love of music and a shared curiosity for the world. Saruul is young, shy, and trying to live up to expectations. By contrast, Katya has spent her life defying the expectations of others and following her own path, working as a famous dancer, drinking the finest cognac, and suffering loss at a young age. Working at the shop, Saruul makes deliveries and becomes familiar with the products, though she is hesitant to try any herself. Despite her reservations, time in the sex shop, along with Katya’s mentorship, leads Saruul on a new journey of self-discovery (which is more wholesome than the premise would suggest).

“…her new employment involves working at a local sex shop…”

Oidovjamts Enkhtuul’s portrayal of Katya is filled with grace and gravitas, delving into the complexities of the material to create a fully realized character. The Sales Girl thrives on characters. Bayarjargal Bayartsetseg captures Saruul’s innocence and her growth, which is a testament to her excellence as a performer. She plays off the nuances of Enkhtuul to craft a joyous on-screen relationship. Whether it’s Katya’s stories of her past life or Saruul’s cigarettes and encounters with clients, each choice builds character-driven storytelling sparkling with the chemistry of the two leads. The performances and character arcs arise organically, with the soundtrack highlighting each emotional beat to create a fulfilling, artistic coming-of-age story.

Every element in The Sales Girl is purpose-driven, from the acting choices to the direction, scene structure, color palette, and music. Writer/director Janchivdorj Sengedorj weaves expertly timed needle drops throughout the film. Color changes combine with dark New Wave and Indie tracks to move the film forward, placing the narrative in Saruul’s headphones as she travels from client to client, dropping off the latest sex toys. Sengedorj even puts the musicians in the film, outside the story, to punctuate significant moments for Saruul and Katya, giving the film soul and a profound sense of narrative cohesion.

The Sales Girl is more than the log-line and scandalous premise would suggest. Like a Wong Kar-wai film, the narrative is always in service of the character beats set to a memorable soundtrack. Janchivdorj Sengedorj has written an empathetic story that is true to life and inspiring in all its eccentricities. The brothel arrest sequence and Saruul’s many bus rides are entertaining. Katya’s wisdom carries the film’s themes with beautiful subtext. Bayarjargal Bayartsetseg and Oidovjamts Enkhtuul’s performances are grounded in character, always creating depth. A few moments in the middle drag, but never enough to cause a viewer to lose faith in Saruul’s quest for self-discovery. The Sales Girl is rich in subtext, soundtrack, and all the other elements indie film fans love. It’s an evocative, character-driven story made on a budget. The film is an excellent gateway for the cast, crew, and Mongolian cinema.

The Sales Girl (2021)

Directed and Written: Janchivdorj Sengedorj

Starring: Bayarjargal Bayartsetseg, Oidovjamts Enkhtuul, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Sales Girl Image

"…love, loss, and loneliness in the sex toy industry..."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon