I finally got to watch Stephen Elliott’s directorial debut last night. I’d been anticipating it for a while as a fan of his site, The Rumpus. But when I read the reviews, I was turned off slightly and I waited.
After sitting through the whole thing, I have no idea why it got such terrible reviews. Maybe because it’s not the classic “descent into hell” that viewers might expect of a story centered around a young girl entering the world of porn. Nor is it this fantastic 1970s sexual playground of freaks and outcasts like in Boogie Nights. It’s actually pretty down-to-earth, pretty real. Not sugarcoated, but not totally gritty, either. I liked watching the characters, and I cared about all of them. The acting was great from everyone—Ashley Hinshaw, Dev Patel, Lili Taylor, Heather Graham, James Franco, Diane Farr and others. I think the direction and cinematography were good, too. For a debut, I think it’s a pretty strong one. And for something from IFC Films, I think it’s exactly what I’d expect from them. Good story, well-acted fleshed-out characters, in a world outside the mainstream.
Yeah, maybe it could’ve gone deeper into one of the peripheral stories, like Heather Graham and Diane Farr’s. And maybe something really “terrible” could’ve happened to Ashley Hinshaw to heighten the drama. But I think it tells a real story, and the fact that it was co-written by Lorelei Lee, who’s a porn actress, gives it a real credibility.