Pleasure. Quick Review

An aspiring porn star relocates from Sweden to the US in hopes of becoming the next big thing in an indie drama that on one level is exactly what it looks like on the tin. An attempt to reframe and offer a female gaze on a decidedly male-dominated industry. Que ensuing debate about how the film presents the concept of performer agency within the business. Much of this might be expected given the narrative formula on display but it’s somewhat refreshing to see a film about this subject that on one level is not lecturers to the audience about its position one way or the other. The decidedly mumblecore presentation gets in the way of just how effective these sequences can be at times. This sort of material is catnip to the mildly pretentious festival crowd whose only regular streaming subscription is MUBI ( who have struck up a very on-brand distribution deal here.) Yet as our central character gets deeper into the industry the narrative implementation of shock value becomes more overt. When the film first appeared on the festival circuit they were distributors who wanted to cut it down from an NC-17 to an R rating. Having seen it in its complete uncut form the one sequence likely mandates that rating is one of the most disturbing things in recent media. The sort of thing that requires a very stiff drink of choice afterwards. That said in eventually presenting both sides of the central argument when depicting the porn industry it’s hard not to think that the film offers no definitive idea of what it wants to do or say regarding any of the events or scenarios depicted. It’s worth seeing for a strong lead performance and the moments that do work. Unfortunately in its attempt to offer a separate take on a very well-documented debate Pleasure eventually falls foul of that lecturer’s tone it spends a chunk of the narrative trying to avoid. Festival-type crowds will eat it up regardless. There are commendable elements throughout Pleasure but it’s the sort of production those in the target audience will recommend realising it has little audience appeal outside of those who were built to champion it.

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