Stars: Sofia Kappel, Evelyn Claire, Revika Anne Reustle, Mark Spiegler, Dana DeArmond
Adapted from her short picture of the same name, this punishing but essential feature debut from Swedish writer-director Thyberg charts one young woman’s journey through the porn industry. Sofia Kappel is Linnéa aka Bella Cherry, a twenty-year-old relocating from her small town in Sweden to LA, who has ambitions to become a porn star. Arriving in LA she moves into a flat with other porn actresses where one of them Joy (Reustle) befriends her and gives her tips on how to advance her brand. Determined to impress Mark Spiegler, a big name producer on the porn scene (playing himself), Bella agrees to participate in ever more extreme material. This is an unblinking, harrowing but thoughtful study of ambition, coercion and exploitation. The director immersed herself in the porn scene while researching the project and her presentation of the milieu is persuasively authentic, showing its mutual support networks, but also the attendant spiralling self-worth of the participants. Newcomer Kappel, the only member of the cast who is not a real player in the porn industry, is impressive as the enigmatic protagonist and Thyberg’s treatment of the character is non-judgemental but astute. A bold and brilliant film, but one that viewers are unlikely to revisit.