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Film Fest 2011 - Guilty Pleasures


Guilty Pleasures
UK 2010
Director/Photography: Julie Moggan
Producer: Rachel Wexler
Editor: Claire Ferguson
Music: Stuart Earl
In English, Japanese and Hindi, with English subtitles

With: Shirley Davies, Phil Davies, Shumita Didi Singh, Sanjay Singh Sandhu, Honmo Hiroko, Honmo Seiich, Stephen Muzzonigro, Roger Sanderson, Gabriela Gonzalez

Festivals: London, Amsterdam Documentary 2010

86 minutes

There's a Mills & Boon romance novel sold every four seconds. Julie Moggan's film investigates the fantasies of true love and sexual fulfilment that they promote - and their bearing on the love lives of a handful of their producers and consumers. Disillusionment seems inevitable, but Moggan's approach is fond and good-humoured. Prolific author Gill Sanderson turns out to be a balding Yorkshireman named Roger - who assures us he'd never call a hero Roger. Chiselled cover model Stephen may be deemed to be the man women want but he's a paperback reader himself, a consumer of self-help lit struggling earnestly to find his 'twin flame'. 
Without ever condescending to their fancies, Moggan profiles three avid readers in considerable depth. There's Brit fan Shirley, Hiroko in Japan and, somewhat alarmingly, Shumita in Delhi, who has been texting her ex for the past five years while devouring stories about women who actually love the men they think they hate.
Ultimately Guilty Pleasures makes it affectingly clear that for some readers there's fortification in recognising - even repeatedly - that the perfect union with the perfect man occurs only in very affordable paperbacks. It's not that these women haven't noticed that real love is often complex and tough, as well as ultimately more nourishing - and definitely funnier. - BG

What do more than a million women a month find between the covers of Mills & Boon novels?