Aroused (R)

Documentary 73 December 13, 2013
By Inkoo Kang
Here are the revelations on offer in Aroused, a first feature from celebrity photographer Deborah Anderson that aspires to be a consciousness-raising documentary but is only as deep as a tube of lipstick: Porn actresses are real people. They have childhoods and partners and friends. Some come from broken homes. Many face stigma from "civilians" for their profession. The unjust paradox Aroused obsesses over and hopes to dismantle is our culture's sexual dependence on the very women it scorns for their promiscuity. Anderson’s solution is to present 16 porn actresses in a different visual context—think "perfume-ad erotica"-- and allow them to speak frankly about their lives and their work. Sixteen is a lot of women to meet in just 69 (heh) minutes, so Aroused aims for a collage effect-- a tack better suited to Anderson's famed photo collections ("Hollywood Erotique," "Room 23") than a narrative medium. Though the (mostly white) actresses have contrasting perspectives and experiences, it's hard to tell many of them apart, since Anderson styles and poses them in the same, unimaginative way: naked on rumpled sheets, their mouths open and inviting. (So much for a new image of sexualized women.) However candid the actresses may have been, their interviews are cut into such narrow snippets it's impossible to piece together anyone here into coherent personalities. Consequently, the women arouse pity, but never identification. In that character-less vacuum, the most compelling presence by default is Anderson, a posh do-gooder with more indignation than ideas.
Deborah Anderson Allie Haze, Ash Hollywood, Asphxia Noir, April O'Neil, Alexis Texis Deborah Anderson, Christopher Gallo Metrodome Distribution

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