MPAA Rating: Unrated
Director: Ninja Thyberg
Starring: Sofia Kappel, Evelyn Claire, Zelda Morrison
Runtime: 1 hr 49 mins
What It Is: Bella Cherry arrives in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an adult film star, but she soon learns that fame won’t come easy as she harnesses her ambition and cunning to rise to the top of this mesmerizing and singular world.
What We Think: Ninja Thyberg’s directorial debut Pleasure is a brutal and deceiving neon-colored inside look into the terrifying reality of the adult film industry. While that may be the main selling point of this picture, there are subtle moments shown throughout that really makes the film feel like more of a documentary than a narrative feature. After doing some digging on the cast, it seems that actual filmmakers and stars from the industry played themselves in the film, which adds a layer of authenticity and actual realism to it all.
From a performance that entails seduction and fleshy sensuality, Sofia Kappel is a great lead to this story. Playing a foreigner coming into the industry actually helps us understand it better, in a way (the fish out of water concept is tampered with in a somewhat intriguing manner). The one thing I take away from this film is that its not something meant to be remembered, rather experienced, which is an interesting parallel to its subject matter. There are some very graphic and unnerving sequences depicting the behind the scenes of the adult film industry, and they’re just as grotesque as you would imagine. I would recommend watching this one alongside The Neon Demon as a double feature – both share similar themes, albeit in very distinct presentations. At the end of the day though, Pleasure isn’t very pleasurable to revisit, although the first time around it will make a resounding impact, for sure.
Our Grade: B-; Borderline documentary, a must-see – but also a must-not-repeat. A sugar coated filter hides the twisted underbelly of the porn industry and its exploits, through good direction and a great leading performance.