HomeReviewsPleasure, Dissertates On Women’s Rights Through Porn

Pleasure, Dissertates On Women’s Rights Through Porn

Female empowering chronicles about the sex industry have been fertile ground in recent years for cinema and television. An example can be seen with the American drama television series The Deuce (2017-2019) or with the biopic about the star of Deep Throat, Lovelace (2013). Along these lines, Swedish director Ninja Thyberg returns to the themes of her short film Pleasure — winner of the the Semaine de la Critique at the 66th Cannes Film Festival — portraying the adult film industry with a clear eye through the eyes of an ambitious young woman seeking fame in Los Angeles.

The feature film Pleasure, that will be released by NEON, was selected at the 74th Cannes Film Festival and presented at the 37th Sundance Film Festival and the 44th Göteborg Film Festival. The film garnered great fanfare on the festival circuit, taking home the Jury Prize and the nomination for the Special Grand Prix in Deauville. Furthermore, it received nominations for the British International Film Awards, the European Film Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The courageous interpretation of Sofia Kappel explores with remarkable and ruthless realism the theme of feminism and sex work in an industry entirely dominated by men. The story is about Linnéa, who moves from Sweden to the City of Angels to work as a porn actress with the nom de plume Bella Cherry. She embarks on a mission to become the best at any cost, and despite her attempts to navigate this world with cynicism and fortitude the fragility of her young age and gentle nature emerge.

Ninja Thyberg, who besides directing the film also wrote it, confronts porn as a regular job in the hands of the patriarchy. Pleasure, encapsulates the desire of contemporary young women to stand up for themselves. It is Linnéa’s mother who sums it up during a phone call, in which she believes her 19-year-old daughter is struggling at a conventional internship, ignoring her true lifestyle. The maternal words of advice are admonishing: “There will always be people who will want to put you down, especially if you are a young woman. It is your life, you are in charge. And when you really want something, you can do anything. 

Women in porn — as much as in other professional fields — are used as pawns. They want to show themselves confident and often get competitive amongst them. In Pleasure there is one particular character who brings out the archetypical All About Eve rivalry, in a very effective way. 

The themes that are brought into question extend to all professional dynamics. This is exemplified by the way bodies are treated as instrumental for the storytelling. Female and male genitalia barely shock, as they simply show the anatomy of a squalid job that can be no different from any other when it comes to power games in the work place. The scenes of rough intercourse do not come across as vulgar, because they contain the allegorical significance of how sex is a power tool. The actresses who portray the fledgeling porn stars flaunt very normal bodies, none of them have the typical prostheses in silicone that audiences may expect to find in these kind of performers. This refreshing choice mitigates youth’s hunger to consummately take a bite at success, because behind the jaded and disenchanted attitude there is the foolishness and naiveté of inexperience. It is extremely tender to see how these tweens awkwardly play sexy and try to be managerial meandering through kinky networking parties and ultimately get disillusioned. 

The film brings up many issues that transcend porn, as this industry serves as an efficacious parable for women having to keep afloat in a man’s world. However the narrative entangles itself in the reiteration of its message without heading into a dramatic evolution. Linnéa’s final choice isn’t surprising nor do the other characters have a remarkable progression. Perhaps this makes the entire filmic experience closer to reality, as it is characterised by inconsequential moments. Yet there is a cinematic ploy that provides considerable panache: church music. The Confutatis and Voca me cum benedictis, convey a powerful juxtaposition between holy and profane. This directorial arrangement truly enhances the female’s multifaceted nature.

Final Grade: B-

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Works as film critic and journalist who covers stories about culture and sustainability. With a degree in Political Sciences, a Master’s in Screenwriting & Film Production, and studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Chiara has been working in the press since 2003. Italian by blood, British by upbringing, fond of Japanese culture since the age of 7, once a New Yorker always a New Yorker, and an avid traveller, Chiara collaborates with international magazines and radio-television networks. She is also a visual artist, whose eco-works connect to her use of language: the title of each painting is inspired by the materials she upcycles on canvas. Her ‘Material Puns’ have so far been exhibited in four continents, across ten countries. She is a dedicated ARTivist, donating her works to the causes and humanitarians she supports, and is Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan.

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