It gives the impression that after a long, chaste time, interest in crackling and exciting eroticism is increasing again within the film industry. Amazon has released a large number of erotic thrillers and sex films in recent years: Deep Water with Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck, The Voyeurs with Euphoria and Madame Webb star Sydney Sweeney and many more. The genre is also popular with its competitor Netflix, and the streaming service generated controversial headlines and huge interest with 365 Days and the recently released successor 365 Days – This Day.
Pleasure is also a big movie with a lot of nudity and sex. The plan isn’t so much sparkling entertainment with the appropriate penny script, but rather film art, visual playfulness and thematic depth – along with various porn stars that underline the realism of the 108-minute story. In our film review, we reveal what makes Ninja Thyberg’s directorial debut so frighteningly good, what’s disturbing, and for whom Pleasure is worthwhile.
One final note: we won’t be spoiling anything, of course, but we’d like to issue a trigger warning: among other things, we’re going to cover a pretty intense scene related to a hardcore porn shoot, be warned.
One of the oldest industries, with the youngest women
No Time for Foreplay: The film, written and directed by Ninja Thyberg, begins without much exposure with the journey of 20-year-old Linnéa (Sofia Kappel), who comes from a small town in Sweden and wants to go out into the big, wide world. Good money, little to no worries and – in the best case – rising to stardom, all of which should come true in the city of dreamers, Los Angeles – sounds like clichés, but for its subject matter Pleasure actually throws few of them around.
Source: Platform Productions
How the ambitious Linnaeus, who gives herself the stage name Bella Cherry, came up with this venture, what drives her or what her relationship with family and friends is, remains conspicuously irrelevant as a topic. Instead, we accompany Bella in her big new beginning. From there it goes steeply uphill for the newcomer fictional character. On her way to the top, the cosmopolitan and adventurous woman behind the mask has to endure total devotion and brute force on several occasions – especially from some of her significantly older film partners.
With open eyes to the full feeling
Anyone who now thinks that Pleasure paints an enormously gloomy and one-dimensional picture of the porn industry is wrong. The feature film, which Ninja Thyberg already presented as a short film in 2013, never puts a moral classification over the camera lens.
Instead, there is a lot of bare space for blind but also fulfilled passion, brutal misery, heartwarming friendships and – especially strong – blatant contradictions that keep shifting our perspective just when we thought we were seeing clearly.
But the contradictions are never found in Bella, created for the lustful eyes of the world, nor in Linnaeus’ character or her focused actions. Rather, it is the discrepancy between the two characters with which Thyberg captures and illuminates the complexity of a socially largely unexplored industry in a refreshingly intimate way.
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