It’s an often subtle (even in its many XXX-rated shots) and surreptitious study of an industry built on explicit, aggressive imagery, an arresting film which, though it doesn’t stick the landing, thankfully delineates between the legitimate work of adult film performers and the toxicity, misogyny and abuse the male-dominated industry allows to fester and lacerate.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
It’s not an exposé on what pornography does to women as much as a harrowing examination of what the workplace expects and allows from women and men.
Pleasure — which is almost by default the most knowing and honest commercial film that’s been made about the modern American porn industry — is determined to avoid framing pleasure and business in binary terms.
The Playlist by Gregory Ellwood
What’s strikingly revolutionary in Pleasure is how Thyberg’s gaze provides Bella’s story much-needed context by embracing the mundane aspects of this particular world.
The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin
Throughout, Thyberg switchbacks between humor and humiliation with unsettling abruptness, but withholds judgement of the characters' choices to create an ethical Rorschach test, prompting reactions that may be more revealing than the film itself.
I really appreciate the bold narrative that Thyberg and co-writer Peter Modestij crafted. It is sex-positive, it takes no prisoners, and it grabs your attention from word one to the final frame.
It’s a coldly artful and explicit piece of anthropological voyeurism, and its subject is what pornography has become — what it is, what it’s selling, why the people who perform in it are drawn to it, what it does for them, what it does to them, and what it’s doing to all of us.
This impressive, unflinching debut from Ninja Thyberg eschews the victim narrative which tends to shadow stories focussing on women in the porn industry, instead following Bella’s cool-headed navigation of this treacherous and frequently exploitative world.