Bella Cherry arrives in Los Angeles with dreams of becoming an adult film star, but she soon learns that fame won’t come easy as she harnesses her ambition and cunning to rise to the top of this mesmerizing and singular world.
Much like the industry its taking to task, Ninja Thyberg’s “Pleasure” isn’t afraid to use exploitive tactics to sell her product. Promoted as behind-the-scenes look at the modern porn industry, it must be said that on that point the filmmaker delivers, hiring veterans from the adult film industry to work before and behind the camera. To be sure, the best part of the movie are the scenes that take place on the various sets the film’s Alice, Bella Cherry (impressive newcomer Sofia Kappel), encounters as she traverses this treacherous wonderland. There’s a sense of realism in watching the prep work that goes into shooting, both from a technical point of view as well as all the performers must contend with both on and off the screen.
Where the film falters is with its script, as well as its logic. Once you push all of the salacious elements aside, you realize that Thyberg’s script is nothing but a Mean Girls retread as we see Cherry abandon her old friends once she makes it to the big time, having become all she initially disdained. More troubling is the mixed message the film contends is progressive feminism. There’s no denying the porn industry objectifies women. Here the message is that there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you objectify yourself.
2 1/2 Stars