The eighteen year-old Angeline raises money with a session of naked pictures and leaves her alcoholic and dysfunctional parents fleeing to San Francisco with her friend Andrew. They rent a room in the apartment of the gay Paco and Angeline finds a job in a strip club and Andrew in a bookstore. Soon Angeline has a love affair with the drug-addicted lawyer Frances and joins the adult industry making porn. Meanwhile the lesbian director Margaret becomes obsessed with her. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I discovered this movie last summer when Heather Graham was doing some promo work. Being familiar with the website the movie's based on, I was pleased to stumble across the DVD.
Whilst I'm sure that porn insiders believe they have a unique tale to tell (including our writer), the reality is that most entrants to pornography come from similar troubled backgrounds. Ashley Hinshaw does a good job with the material she's given. She's certainly beautiful, further emphasised when compared to the stalwarts sharing a dressing room with her. The issue here is that there's simply not enough material to stretch this out.
The viewer can all too easily discern that it's heartbreaking to watch an innocent soul get trapped within such a vile industry. We've collectively witnessed countless documentaries and fiction that's hammered this point into our consciousness. Where this movie succeeds is showing that it's not always a cautionary tale. Is the industry as vile as one would expect? There's an element of professionalism in the manner that contemporary porn companies conduct themselves. This film makes no effort to portray the seedy act of hardcore porn as being produced haphazardly. I was glad of this as it's lazy stereotyping to suggest that in a digital world there's still fat guys calling all the wrong shots behind the camera.
Hinshaw conveys the naivety you'd expect when embarking upon Angelina's journey, but over time her independence grows. Whether it's distancing herself from a difficult family and worshipful best friend, to accepting more personal and emotionally troubling roles at work. The progression seems credible, with minor pacing issues troubling me. It's difficult to comprehend how much time passes between each stage of Angelina's process.
Hinshaw's Angelina has to deal with a boyfriend and a best friend, both male, both with wildly different expectations, but similar opinions of her work. However when the story falls back on their objections, perhaps I was unfairly expecting more than those objections on their own. James Franco plays a smaller role and I suspect he'll be thankful. There's no exploration of his potentially intriguing character at all, which is breathtaking considering his talent and reputation. My question now is what attracted Franco to such a limited role, irrespective of how much screen time it involved? The main issue I have is the quality of the dialogue. There's one particular sequence where the characters simply repeat themselves across multiple scenes which stands out for criticism. Porn insider Lorelei Lee has writing credits, which explains the accuracy and fluidity of the porn terminology, but also the lack of emotional depth in the script. A solid movie could potentially have become a good one. Any film such as this will hope to use the lead character's personal relationships as a crutch, as it's the only way to bring this type of movie to life.
Having recently watched this season's Hollywood Reporter Roundtable for 2013's Best Actress projected nominees, the one constant theme they agreed on was a dearth of quality material to go around. Sally Field, Marion Cotillard, Amy Adams and much more bemoaned the struggles of lead roles worth their attention. Perhaps this is why young Ashley Hinshaw took such a risk to bare all for this movie. It's become fashionable to risk a career to lay claim to a 'gutsy' or 'ambitious' portrayal to pad a resume. Fortunately for Hinshaw this is certainly no Showgirls, but it's a million miles from Monsters Ball.
All things considered this is still worth watching, but don't drop everything to accommodate. The sex scenes aren't too intense or overbearing. If anyone's looking to watch this film only for the nudity then there's enough to sink your teeth into. Hinshaw's got an incredible body and Heather Graham's exactly as you know and love her.
6/10 for me.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?