Pleasure (CREDIT: NEON)

Starring: Sofia Kappel, Revika Anne Reustle, Evelyn Claire, Chris Cock, Dana DeArmond, Kendra Spade, Jason Toler

Director: Ninja Thyberg

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (Because There’s No Way It Would’ve Gotten an R)

Release Date: May 13, 2022 (Theaters)

The most striking thing about the first half of Pleasure (besides all the full-frontal nudity) is the underlying message that work is work, no matter how much you love it. There are certain quotidian tasks on everyone’s to-do lists: keeping your books, texting your co-workers, getting the word out on social media, etc. Even if you have the most luxuriously hedonistic career in the world, you still have to take care of business. That’s what 20-year-old Linnéa (Sofia Kappel) discovers when she jets off from Sweden to Los Angeles and adopts the moniker “Bella Cherry” to become the biggest porn star in the world but then soon realizes that accomplishing that will involve hours spent scrolling through Instagram to increase her follower count. If that’s as bad as it goes for such a vulnerable pursuit, then that’s a pretty good deal. But then things get worse. But there’s also some hope that it might get better! It’s complicated.

If you’re wondering what drives Bella at a fundamental level … I wish I could tell you! It’s never clarified if she wants to be famous, or rich, or if she just likes having sex with as many as people as possible. Don’t get it twisted, though, as I’m not doubting her explanation. Her entire aura screams “Conviction!” But maybe she should take a closer look at herself, because when we first meet her as she’s shooting her first hardcore scene, she has a bit of a breakdown and almost doesn’t go through with it. Perhaps those were just Opening Day jitters, but it does ultimately prove to be a bit of a suffocating omen. Socrates is credited as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” and Bella should’ve taken that advice to heart. It could’ve saved her a lot of strife.

When mainstream movies like this one come along to offer an unflinching portrayal of a taboo subject, they often get praised for their so-called “honesty.” To which I say: perhaps Pleasure is honest, to a certain extent. The cast is filled with plenty of veterans of the porn industry, after all. But even if it is truthful, I doubt that it’s also comprehensive. There are probably some folks who have had similar experiences as Bella’s, while others have surely had better ones, and still others had it much worse. Pleasure is the story of Bella Rose and nobody else. We’re all left to make of that what we will.

Pleasure is Recommended If You Like: Making private matters public

Grade: 3 out of 5 Climaxes