This film was previously reviewed in February 2021 as part of our Sundance Film Festival coverage.

When asked at the airport whether she was in Los Angeles for business or pleasure, Bella Cherry (Sofia Kappel) answers, “pleasure,” followed by a small, unreadable smile. Pleasure’s writer-director Ninja Thyberg gives us a look into the life of a sex worker through Bella, who just arrived in Los Angeles from Sweden to become the next big star in the porn industry. What Bella quickly learns is that in order to get to the top, she’ll have to cross lines she never wanted to.

First and foremost, Kappel is awe-inspiring, especially as a first-time actress. Despite the fact that Bella initially comes across as someone who is timid, Kappel never allows her to be weak. Through Kappel’s bravery as an actress, you also see this in Bella, and it becomes apparent very quickly that she has a fire within her to succeed by any means possible, even if it means pushing herself past her limitations. 

Another notable aspect of Pleasure is that there is no long-winded backstory as to why Bella has chosen to be a sex worker, nor is time wasted by explaining any of the other women’s reasonings, because they don’t need one, and Pleasure refuses to give into the negative stigmas or stereotypes that surround sex work.

Though there are moments that showcase friendship and triumph, there are also scenes in Pleasure that are difficult to watch, not only because of the violence, but also because of the harsh reality of the business that pays no regard to women as human beings. 

Thyberg does not hold back in her powerful exploration in Pleasure, providing a perspective on the patriarchal issues within the porn industry from a woman’s point of view that are not spoken about enough, and opens the door for important conversations without judgement towards sex workers.



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

DIRECTOR: Ninja Thyberg

WRITER: Ninja Thyberg

SYNOPSIS: Jessica leaves her small town life in Sweden for Los Angeles with the aim to become the worlds next big porn star.