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GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE (2001)

SYNOPSIS:
In 1995, Oklahoma housewife Stacy Baker was encouraged by her then-husband to pose for an amateur nudes photo competition. The photograph's impact led Stacy into the world of professional nude modelling and ultimately a successful career in hard-core pornographic movies, performing as Stacy Valentine. This documentary traces two years in the private life of Stacy Baker and the public life of Stacy Valentine as she strives to win the adult film industry's highest award.

"The 1981 Canadian documentary Not A Love Story was one of the first serious attempts to cover a subject polite society no longer discussed after it ventured out just once to watch Deep Throat in 1973. The box-office and critical success of Boogie Nights, censor approval of hard core scenes in In The Realm Of The Senses and Romance and the steady stream of documentaries about porn stars (Sex: The Annabel Chong Story, Wadd: The Life and Times of John C Holmes - in cinemas later this year - to name a couple) has made the topic anything but taboo now. Because we live in an age of voracious information consumption and media intrusion into every aspect of life, pornography has become demystified and is once again an acceptable topic of conversation at social gatherings. Hard core videos are even on display at HMV and Virgin shops in the UK - no longer the most formidable stronghold against porn it seems. All of which brings us to Stacy Valentine, whose transition from house-mouse to porn superstar is fascinating and compelling because of her ordinariness. Looking into the lives of the Annabel Chongs and John Holmes of porndom carries with it a freak show element but Stacy Baker/Valentine could easily be a housewife who's decided she wants to become the best Tupperware saleswoman in the world. But, as she tells us, "I never had anything I was good at." Except sex, that is, and she has decided to become the very best at having sex on camera. Hers is a showbiz dream-come-true tale that succeeds because we have the sense that Valentine is in control of her life and career path. She has the support of her mother, doesn't have a drug problem and can discuss the graphic details of her work as if she was talking about a cookie recipe. What she does have in common with most porn stars is a bravado that slips every now and then. Behind the confidence are moments of sadness that may only flicker for a moment but make a telling impression. You get the feeling that no matter how much Valentine feels in control she's painfully aware of the price she'll pay for the rest of her life. The Girl Next Door benefits from having been filmed over a two year period by an accomplished documentary director who gives it a strong dramatic arc building to the adult film industry awards in the US and at Cannes (The Hot d'or as it's known). Sexual explicitness is kept to a minimum; the only sights that will make most people flinch are gruesome shots of the plastic surgery procedures Valentine enthusiastically undergoes. This is a highly accessible, very human look at a career girl with a difference whose chosen path we are not asked to approve of nor be appalled by. Like judging the films in which Stacy Valentine stars, that decision is purely up to you."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE (R)
(US)

CAST: Stacy Valentine

PRODUCERS: Eren McGinnis, Adam Berns, Christine Fugate

DIRECTOR: Christine Fugate

EDITOR: Kate Amend, Christine Fugate

MUSIC: Danis M. Hannigan

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Level Four Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 22, 2001 (Sydney & Melbourne)







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