Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

"Everything has been meticulously researched from the garish costumes and outlandish make-up to the mechanics of the business." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

“Are you here for business or pleasure?” asks the customs agent as the blonde teenager from a small town in Sweden arrives in Los Angeles.

The sardonic reply is a rasped and breathless: “Pleasure.” The exchange is the perfect tone-setter for what follows from first time director Ninja Thyberg, who delivers a forensic and no-holds barred examination of the Californian adult porn industry.

The young woman Bella Cherry (newcomer Sofia Kappel) is no victim, carefully navigating the pitfalls of an exploitative industry where the rules of the game are in the main observed yet can come at great personal cost. She rooms with a bunch of fellow practitioners who provide a mutual support service she embarks on a round of auditions in her bid to get a big break in an industry that can bring considerable financial dividends - at a price.

Thyberg adopts a documentary approach, observing the shoots with an almost clinical precision with none of the detail spared - from rampant erections to fetish gear, ejaculations, and personal plumbing. Once the scenes are finished the men are observed as considerate and caring for their co-star’s welfare - especially after one scene in which the girl is roughed up by two males, leaving her in state of physical pain and mental anguish.

Many of the actors are from the porn industry including “mogul” Mark Spiegler (a grandfatherly figure) whose Spiegler Girls represent the pinnacle of the “profession” to which many aspire. The names in the cast list will give clues to the others.

Everything has been meticulously researched from the garish costumes and outlandish make-up to the mechanics of the business of creating fantasies for the legion of male fans who throng in one sequence to a Las Vegas convention for a chance of real-life selfies with the “stars”.

Thyberg explores gender stereotypes and attitudes along the way, adopting an admirably non-judgemental approach to a controversial subject while Kappel negotiates her debut role with uncompromising candour.

Reviewed on: 06 Sep 2021
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A 20-year-old woman moves from her small town in Sweden to LA for a shot at a career in the adult film industry.
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Director: Ninja Thyberg

Writer: Ninja Thyberg

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

Year: 2021

Runtime: 115 minutes

Country: Sweden, Netherlands, France

Streaming on: MUBI

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