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LGM Film Club, Part 299: Pleasure

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Very much not a film for everyone, but Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature film, Pleasure, about a Swedish girl who moves to Los Angeles to become a porn star, is one hell of a film. Essentially, it’s a feminist look at the pornography industry, both in terms of what makes a woman want to do this and what pleasures we might discover out it, but also the exploitation of women in male-dominated sets, the sexual violence too often part of it, and the sheer competitiveness of it as our heroine attempts to rise to the top by engaging in the most extreme videos she can get hired for. It’s the story of a woman’s uncontrollable ambition to the best at what she likes to do–in this case, have sex. It seems that the porn industry is pretty divided about the film, with some people noting that it is a pretty good look at the reality of the thing and others thinking that it perpetuates stereotypes about it. In any case, this can be a very tough film to watch at times, but Thyberg’s directing and Sofia Kappel’s acting, also a debut performance, carry this through. Both should be major international film figures moving forward. As you can see at Rotten Tomatoes, this is the kind of film critics love but is a bit much for audiences, who mostly don’t like it much. One thing this you can’t accuse this film of making pornography look sexy. At best, it looks like deeply uncomfortable work. At worst, it’s horrible. But I do recommend the film on its merits.

For understandable reasons, one cannot embed the trailer due to its content. Instead, here’s an interview with Thyberg and Kappel at the American Film Institute Festival.

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