Pleasureland (2003)

Came across this on the 4oD website and thought it would be interesting to watch, although I was surprised it was still online. Anyway, it is about a 14-year-old who is determined to grow up as fast as possible.

I’m not too sure what note this film is trying to hit as a piece of television-cinema. It could almost be a public information short about the perils of peer pressure.

It doesn’t stray from inflicting its point on the audience. It gets quite dark in tone, but anything to induce the feelings of shame that the central character, Joanna, feels when her friends pressure her to do things she is not ready for. In time, she turns on her other friends and becomes the bully she herself had been bullied by in turn. Of course Joanna learns a lesson from her actions – this made me think that it could have been shown as a discussion point for PSHE lessons, possibly – but she sees other girls suffer such fates as teen pregnancy and underage sex.

Even if this television drama is over 10 years old, the central themes are still an issue in society. Of course, peer pressure, underage sex etc is still an issue but I had to keep on reminding myself that the central character was supposed to be only 14 years old. I remember being that age and even though I never experienced such extremes of pressure as shown in this film, the pressure to be like everyone else is very, very real. I was, however, labelled as a lesbian because I didn’t have a boyfriend when I was 15.

I feel like I can’t rate this TV movie too highly. Of course, it is a dark coming-of-age drama with a documentary filming style. It, however, didn’t seem very believable when Joanna ran out of her exam room and nobody stopped her. Some cultural elements of the drama haven’t aged very well but the central plot/character motivation succeeds sufficiently enough at putting across its aims.

MY RATING: ** / *****

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