Pleasure comes in many forms, but it certainly doesn’t come through the porn industry pleasure, the uncomfortably good drama by the author / director Ninja Thyberg.
Thyberg, who has arguably the best first name in first name history, dives deep into a world known for attracting and spitting young women like … well, use your imagination. pleasure follows Bella Cherry, who travels to Los Angeles from Sweden looking to become a star of adult entertainment for some reason. But what starts with just one big dick in different places turns into a scary reality involving less kosher managers, competitive girls, and even more unsavory acts.
There is a lot of sex, but little of it is erotic. If there’s one message Thyberg wants to convey, the porn industry is all business, and if it’s not much, much worse. Polite behavior hides inconsiderate men (and women) who want financial or other gain. The film reaches its climax or low point in a scene where Bella is filmed being approached and abused by two men. The line between work and rape is practically dripping away.
The dark themes are juxtaposed with a bright, vivid photograph that gives the production a false sense of rosiness. It’s a great looking movie that rarely or never strays from the material. Sofia Kappel is a noticeable protagonist in her first feature-length role. She is well cast and easily manages the complexities of her character.
I would have liked to have better understood the motivations behind Bella, however; While you are quick to find out that it is ambitious, the film lacks that Why… Why the adult entertainment industry? Why go the way she went? More details would have helped us on their trip.
pleasure is not for everyone; It’s brutally hard to see at times. However, it’s also one of the best dramas to play at Sundance.
This film was reviewed as part of coverage of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Rating by Erik Samdahl, unless otherwise stated.