In the half century since the “adult” film industry became an overarching legal activity, few legitimate feature films have emerged in this world that a wider public has found edifying. the big boogie nights and not much else. The new Swedish drama Pleasure, a first film by the young Swedish director Ninja Thyberg, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival that was ultimately canceled last year and which has now finally been premiered, albeit virtually, at Sundance, now complements the short list of insights into the inner workings of the busy industry that is actually worth seeing.
“Are you here for business or pleasure?” The US sales representative asks the young Swedish blonde (Sofia Kappel) arriving at customs. Bored, she chews gum and points out the latter, although a year later this would by no means be the case. Next up, we see her, the 19-year-old insanely shaving her private parts in preparation for her first porn concert, for which she is supposed to receive $ 900.
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Pretty enough but not particularly shapely and adorned with a few particularly unattractive tattoos, she understandably has stage fright when she walks into the apartment and is greeted in this new world by men who go out of their way to ensure her comfort and needs. “Pretty good for your first time,” she says as she finishes her first day at work.
So she is in the doorway, albeit cautiously, when she explains that she is “not yet” anal, but that’s okay as another girl says she will do anything. The newly renamed Bella Cherry declares “I’m here to work” and that’s what she does. The footage couldn’t be more rudimentary – the cameras look like high-end versions of most people’s home video equipment, and while the attendees tend to be on the messy side, the crew members seem solid and rigid, Joes.
Thyberg presents the outward manifestations of Bella’s life as almost identical to those of the countless other young women who come to Hollywood for a break: she takes an apartment with some other hopeful actresses, tries to find an agent and is invited to parties endless other pretty young things.
The difference is that most young women are not tied in knots at work and are pulled up on ropes for S&M purposes. Admitting that she learned at work that “I am very submissive” doesn’t prevent her daily work ethic from messing up after a scene where two men are giving her a very hard time sexually. Once the cameras stop rolling, the men couldn’t be nicer and more supportive, but that doesn’t change the reality. Her feeling of being humiliated by her work has begun.
Any number of films, plays, and books have explored this process of moral and spiritual deterioration caused by some form of physical abuse, but Pleasure has the added benefit of showing it in vividly realistic terms. There are plenty of male attachments waving around at various stages of excitement, as well as demeaning scenes that end when a director calls Cut or even before that when a woman feels like things are going too far. But by then, it’s usually too late and you won’t get paid if you’re not done. One can try to cheerfully dismiss the excesses as everything in the work one day, but with repetition the moral calluses build up and harden. Lots of jobs like people chewing up and spitting out, but with porn the process is much faster and more determined.
There’s no real surprise, but Thyberg keeps things interesting by realistically showing what goes into a porn shoot from the actors’ point of view – how men have to have their own ways, so to speak, to keep up appearances, and women quickly learn that theirs Value often depends on how far you will go, e.g. B. to take over two men at the same time or to be tied up in leather and chains. The more extreme the fetishes, the better. Thyberg has definitely done her research and used it well. That might not be XXX, but XX is sufficient in this case.
Pleasure isn’t moral the old-fashioned way, not at all, but it delivers essentially the same message as more conventional stories over the years: when you allow yourself to be taken advantage of and do things you wouldn’t otherwise. If you’re not just doing for the money, you’re likely to feel cheaper, grossed out, humiliated, and morally hollowed out.
In such cases, an old Hollywood movie would have either killed such a woman in an accident or delivered it through true love and the forgiveness of a man. More recently, she would probably have found the solution to resolutely closing this chapter and trying to start a new one. And now? Obviously take a camera and take a picture of it yourself. As Thyberg did in a determined, finely focused way.
Pleasure celebrated its world premiere in the World Dramatic Competition. The running time is 100 minutes. The commercial agent is CAA.