Pleasure18¦ blu-ray, DVD
Considered to be the first example of a pornographic film is A L'Ecu d'Or ou la bonne auberge (‘At the Golden Shield’ or ‘The Good Inn’), released in France in 1908. No doubt it caused quite a kerfuffle at the time, as it probably could only be viewed with an audience and not on your smartphone, which must have been all kinds of awkward for all concerned.
The porn landscape has changed considerably since then, with the industry estimated to be worth around $15 billion in the States alone. That makes it bigger than Netflix.
Swedish director Ninja Thyberg makes her full length directorial debut with this explicit insight into the world of porn.
Arriving in the US of A is young Swede Linnéa (Sofia Kappel). It’s not a holiday however, as she intends to work. She wants to get into the pseudo glamorous and sordid skin trade, where she takes the name of Bella Cherry, and perform sexual acts in front of the camera.
After her first shoot, she grows in confidence, and decides she wants to go all the way to the top of the porn tree, and become an elite star. It’s a road often travelled by others, with the majority failing to succeed, but Bella firmly believes she's got what it takes.
Although initially fearless, even she is taken aback by how much shooting porn can take out of you, physically and emotionally. Although determined, she’s not quite prepared for what’s to come, if she’s to be the porn star she wants to be.
As debuts go, this one is particularly bold. There is much nudity, female and male, and the simulated sex scenes play out incredibly real. It rarely feels salacious or titillating however, especially when there’s a scene that is especially brutal and far from being an easy watch.
And its star Swedish-born Kappel makes an impressive impression with her debut role. Much like her character she is fearless throughout, wearing her nudity like any other costume for her role.
Thyberg shoots with confidence too, perhaps the fact of being a female giving her some leeway of sorts with the source material. She certainly doesn’t shy away from the mechanics of the film shoots.
Giving the film some added authenticity, as if it were needed, is that Thyberg cast a number of performers from the adult entertainment world in appropriate roles, further blurring the line between fact and fiction.
Perhaps the film’s only weakness is the lack of depth to its characters, much like porn flicks themselves – so we’ve heard. Certainly physically Kappel is all in, but it would have been interesting to have her reveal more on the emotional front, along with her colleagues, as it all feels somewhat superficial.
It’s a strong debut however, for both star and director, offering a raw and unflinching insight into the adult entertainment industry that certainly hits the g-spot.