The controversial porn drama hitting cinemas this summer

Watch the exclusive new trailer for ‘Pleasure’, the smart, salacious and critically acclaimed new movie about adult filmmaking.

by Douglas Greenwood
13 May 2022, 11:09am

There are roles of a lifetime, and then there’s the role of Bella Cherry in Ninja Thyberg’s dangerous feature length directorial debut, Pleasure. Played by newcomer Sofia Kappel (who’s so good in it she won a Guldbagge last year, the Swedish equivalent of an Oscar), Bella is a young woman from Sweden hellbent on making it as a porn star, and so she makes the journey from her hometown to Los Angeles -- effectively the epicentre of the porn world. There, she learns the tricks of the trade, a mere minnow in a gigantic, male-dominated pond, and realises that, no matter how far her limits can stretch her, there’s always someone willing, wanting her to go one step further.

For the past year-and-a-half, Pleasure has been travelling the globe, racking up controversy and catalysing valuable conversations about consent in the porn industry in its wake. The movie -- which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival -- is a low-budget indie film loaded with the confrontational bombast of lurid and explicit adult cinema: real porn stars make up much of its cast, the appendages and skin you see is all real.

But it’s not for shock value or titillation: this is a film about the harsh realities of a world often viewed through a flattering gloss of perfect bodies and sexual liberation. But in the old fashioned constructs of adult filmmaking -- particularly in Bella’s experience -- the reality isn’t so rosy. Ninja Thyberg has managed to make a film that is both sex positive and sceptical of the male-built framework of an industry formed around the bodies of women. The question she never answers explicitly is interesting: is this subjugation, or a celebration of personal freedom?

The film has racked up a slew of strong reviews. Thrillist pointed out in their review that Ninja “approaches her subject with such a clinical gaze that it's hard to shake the feeling that she's doing something revolutionary”. The New York Times pointed out that “Like Hitchcock, [Ninja] knows how to shock you.”

Ahead of its UK release in theatres -- first with special screenings on 15 June and a wider release on 17 June, where it will be available to stream too -- we’re giving you an exclusive first look at MUBI’s brand new trailer for the project. It’s as gripping as the movie it’s promoting.

sex work