Ninja Thyberg’s eye-popping debut explores the world of porn from the perspective of a Swedish teenager hungry for X-Rated fame. Leonie Cooper talks to Thyberg and star Sofia Kappel about hypocrisy, graphic sex, and consent thorns
Swedish director Ninja Thyberg says
Thought everyone was going to be mad at me,” says Swedish director Ninja Thyberg, in what is likely to be the clearest film in cinema this year – maybe even this decade. “I thought people in the porn industry would go crazy; Feminists would be mad; conservatives would be mad. I expected a lot of hate.” Instead, she says with a smile, the reactions to her daring debut Pleasure have been the exact opposite.
Fantastic Woman at the Cannes Film Festival
While Thyberg, 37, has received the spectacular Woman in Motion Young Talent Award at the Cannes Film Festival—the first given annually to an exceptional female director—her concern was perhaps justified. Pleasure is a raw, unfiltered look at the adult film industry, centering on 19-year-old Linnea. Played impeccably by newcomer Sofia Kappel, Linea leaves her native Sweden for Los Angeles to become an X-rated superstar named Bella Cheri.
released in the original cut
His journey to the top is fraught with difficulty, it should come as no surprise, but the graphic nature of the film certainly is. So much so that the project’s original distributor A24 – known for its racy choice of Euphoria – reportedly wanted to release a more cinema-friendly edit. A24 is no longer associated with the film and Thyberg has remained silent on what actually happened. “All I can say is that I am very happy that Neon released the film in its original cut,” she tells the independent distribution company that eventually took it on.
Many viewers will undoubtedly find the film overwhelming, especially the harrowing rape scene. It’s kind of a thing. The power of joy may lie in its shock factor, but it’s important to note that the film is also a tender take on an industry that might considered unworthy, despite how many people view its output. A couple ever admits to being one of those people.
adult movie sets tour
“I was as hypocritical as most [who] consume porn,” the 24-year-old says. “I consumed it, but I had this idea that women were traumatized and broken, and that was the only possible reason you would [it].” While visiting adult film sets in LA as part of his research, Kappel quickly found that this was far from the case. But I think, essentially, if you were making the decision for yourself, that’s good.”