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Pleasure ★★★★



Directed: Ninja Thyberg

Cast: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Evelyn Claire

Release: June 17, 2022 (U.K)

In 2021 Ninja Thyberg ruffled a few feathers at the Sundance Film Festival with her feature-length debut, Pleasure. Originally it was a 2013 short film that developed into an eye-opening and brutally honest story of Bella (Sofia Kappel) arriving in Los Angeles from her hometown in Sweden with dreams of becoming the next porn superstar. However, as her ruthless ambition leads her into increasingly dangerous territory, Bella struggles to reconcile her dreams of empowerment with the realities of the darker side of her industry.

While films have explored the porn industry in the past, Thyberg’s tale is another beast. It delivers a fresh perspective of the industry in the modern era and the nature of consent. It is a ferocious experience that bites from the very beginning.

We are living in a world of content, and this content can deliver financial gains beyond anyone’s imagination but at what cost for the individual? Bella’s story feels universal, mainly if you have read or watched any documentaries about the industry. Leaving your home to pursue the American dream is something you’d see in films, but the uncandid execution of Pleasure is utterly eye-opening.

The deeper you delve into the narrative, the more you realise that, the deeper core of the industry is littered with sexism. While it’s documented that there is a turn with some production companies, Thyberg challenges the audience to realise that consent isn’t always real. Bella is experiencing the underbelly of the industry first-hand. A juxtaposing sense of dread and greed within America’s sundrenched colour palette and strong studio lights.

Sofia Kappel’s performance is unflinchingly raw and unparalleled. Her deadpan expression can sometimes mislead the audience, but Thyberg’s sharp framing and ambience evoke so much of the emotional tone. Kappel is our eyes into the industry, and her determination to succeed takes us down a treacherous path, but ultimately, these truths need to be shared.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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