Beautifully shot and sensitively treated, this documentary follows Rocco Tano, a.k.a. Rocco Siffredi as he counts down to the swan song of his on-screen pornographic career - a final scene with long time collaborators... nay! Co-conspirators, Kelly Stafford, director Jon Stagliano, and Rocco's cousin, director of photography and often co-director, Gabriele Galetta.
Although the documentary filmmakers access pornographic sets where sex scenes are taking place, the images always register to me as artistic, intimate, and honest. The closeups, long lenses and shallow focus aren't simply there to avoid a more explicit framing - in fact, you still see penis, vulva, bruised and scratched skin after intense butt slapping, and there's even semen on performers' faces that made it on the final edit.
What it is is an up close and personal interaction with the people who perform these acts in order to make a living. You're bright up there with them through physical strain, exertion, and of course, presumably, pleasure.
This is not a documentary that leers at the sexual act. There is no trace of lechery from the filmmakers. However, neither is it one that takes the contrarian position that "it's just work and porn performers feel nothing. It's all business".
Of course it's a business, but it isn't just that. Rocco Siffredi has a lot of feelz man.
For him, a self confessed sex addict, it is a complex struggle between his natural physical gifts and prowess, this being the only thing he knows how to do, the guilt he suffers with having been a pornographic performer and filmmaker whilst being married and having two sons. On top of all that, add in being Catholic and being intensely loving of his dearly departed mother.
It's also quite clear that he likes intimacy with his co-stars. There is a post-scene interaction between Rocco, Abella Danger, and Veruca James where it's hard to see anything else but post-coital honesty. Their banter is far removed from performers rushing off to clean up and shower after the scene is wrapped. Instead, there they are, sitting around soaking in their sweat, other bodily fluids, and ruined makeup, just talking.
With Hollywood undergoing some much needed reckoning, there is a certain irony with how Rocco, a performer who specializes in the rough sex genre, in fact has surprising bedside manners*. Here is a man who plays at being abusive on-screen but is in fact quite kind. Whilst on the other hand, you have Hollywood and other mainstream entertainment types who put up a kind and caring public persona, but are in fact monsters.
There is a scene captured on camera where the actress taps out and Rocco tells his guys (he wasn't the one preforming, but rather producing/directing) to "leave her alone for a while, she needs a break". Cut to Rocco and the actress alone, cuddling (he is a pornographer, after all), him telling her everything will be ok, just be sure to avoid burning out.
In another scene, a pre-game talk is captured where he makes sure to outline boundaries on what's ok, what's not. What can he direct his stars to do to each other, what he can do to them.
Since his reputation precedes him, people almost always expect him to be rough. In California, Abella Danger takes Rocco's hand and shoves it in her own mouth. Rocco seems to push the boundaries, but then they make out as though that's what Abella wanted all along.
It's this kind of nuance that makes this documentary really engaging. No way to get around it: He's not just a big dick and pretty face. This is a very complex man.
Then there's Kelly Stafford.
She is so amazing. The things peshe says, the life philosophy she lives by, and the appetites she possesses and the sheer power and control she exudes. I now want to see a documentary about her! That would be interesting.
All in all, a must see.
* = There is a scene with James Deen and if you don't know anything about him, a lot of his co-stars and ex girlfriend(s) have accused him of rape. So there's that. Glad the filmmakers didn't give him a voice in this movie.