Pleasure Review: Intimate & Sometimes Grizzly Vision Of Life In Adult Film

Boogie Nights is the porn industry film gold standard, but it lives in a world the audience knows, with rules only Paul Thomas Anderson understands. Don Jon looks at what internet porn does to men of a certain age. However,
Pleasure is about what a young woman goes through in her career as a porn actress. Writer-director Ninja Thyberg, in her feature film debut, has crafted an entirely feminine portrait that puts lead Sofia Kappel in a position to thrive. Every performance feels true to life and in some cases, adult film stars are playing alternate versions of themselves. For better or worse, the most successful aspect of 
Pleasure is it has perhaps the scariest scene of 2022 so far. Thyberg’s vision is raw but never over the top and, as a result,
Pleasure delivers a focused look at an industry viewers rarely see rooted in such realism.,When Bella Cherry (Kappel) moves to Los Angles from Sweden to pursue a career in adult films, she quickly gets in over her head. At her very first shoot, she is warned that other women in the industry are known for taking advantage of new blood like herself. So when Bella moves into a house full of women who do porn, she is standoffish at first. Eventually, she finds a friend in her roommate Joy (Zelda Morrison), and she can see for herself that she was lied to by the men on set. The newly minted friend group begins going to networking events together and Bella slowly becomes a budding star. After getting over her first-time jitters, her second scene is as much a success as it is a sexual revelation and ultimately leads her to be more ambitious in the kinds of scenes she is willing to do. However, her third scene is a nightmare and it makes her rethink her entire life.,Related: The Innocents Review: Intelligent & Horrifying Genre Tale Leaves A Mark,Thyberg and co-writer Peter Modestij (
6A) — who also filmed a short of the same name that released in 2013 — have done a masterful job making the most out of expanding on their initial run. Simply put,
Pleasure is incredible. The film is supremely locked in on its main character and Thyberg’s vision is clear as day. This is not a film with dozens of wide shots of Los Angeles. It is a film built on close-ups and handheld camera work. While that shooting style is common, what is unique about this achievement in 
Pleasure is a non-actor delivering a knock-out performance that is so dependent on close-ups and emoting from the neck up.,In terms of screen time, Kappel effortlessly shoulders the burden, always feeling like the most interesting person in any room she steps in. Thyberg and Kappel are in total sync with this one, but the terrifying moments come in any scene where Kappel is in danger on set. An infinite number of people consume porn and while it’s easy to see how that would be terrifying from the perspective of the performers, it is an occupation nonetheless. 
Pleasure is as much a portrait of a woman as it is a workplace investigation. At 19 years old, anyone would be in danger of losing themselves mentally and emotionally when entering this industry. But in every single scene Kappel is performing in an adult film, it is the potential harm to her body that the film does a phenomenal job  showing the viewer that, even on the best days, something horrible could always happen.,Pleasure is easily one of the year’s best films and hopefully won’t fly under the radar. Explorations of sex are a dime a dozen in Hollywood but Thyberg isn’t interested in sex, she is interested in people who are interested in sex. There is no judgment and no fetishizing. (The film even has time for a boner joke.) What more could one ask for in a film such as this?,Next: Top Gun: Maverick Review – A Sequel Better Than An Already Iconic Original,Pleasure released in theaters on May 13. The film is 109 minutes and not rated.