Review – Elegant Angel’s Wasteland (2012)

FYI: this is going to be a review in layers, starting from most general and moving on to spoiler-riddled detail.

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Wasteland, oh lordy…

First – the basics

Elegant Angel’s newest film, Wasteland (2012), stars Lily Carter and Lily LaBeau as Anna and Jacky (respectively). The two young women were fast friends growing up in Tucson, AZ, but they parted ways when Jacky moved to LA.

Now, after five years and virtually no communication, Anna has come for a visit. The film recounts their reunion over the course of one passionate, emotional, and sexually adventurous night.

The movie was written and directed by Graham Travis. The two-disc Collector’s Edition set includes the final theatrical (theatrical?) cut of the film and an additional disc of bonus material. The bonus material consists of an interview with the director, a podcast with Lily Carter and Lily LaBeau, bonus sex scenes from other EA titles, deleted scenes (which are not to be missed), and the full version of the film’s sex scenes…

… because the sex scenes shown in Wasteland‘s final/theatrical version are relatively brief (in terms of porn standards) and are cut in such a way that they do not interrupt the flow of the story. In fact, they enhance the project such that I watched the entire film, from beginning to end, without fast-forwarding once or skipping around. (fyi, that is incredibly rare)

It’s important to note that, though the term “wasteland” is used with permission, the motion picture Wasteland is not associated with or endorsed by the website Wasteland.com. But, in recognition of one of the internet’s oldest and most beloved BDSM destinations, a fifteen minute special director’s cut fetish scene from the film will be available to all Wasteland.com members as part of their subscription.

Wooosh, all that!!

Now, before I say anything more, I must assert: Wasteland is exquisite – part beautiful and joyous, part heartbreaking and painful, and thoroughly complex and intense. The story is a deeply emotional exploration of less-that-savory friendship dynamics, social pressures, and sadomasochistic relationships. Lily Carter and Lily LaBeau are perfection, and Graham Travis has shown that Portrait Of A Call Girl (2011) was no fluke. This film made me cry.

Wasteland is an incredible experience that will stay with you.

(pictured: from Wasteland – watch it now and/or buy your copy here)

Much, much more detail – do not read if you’re afraid of spoilers!!

The following assessment is based on the content included in the final/theatrical cut of the film only. (but see “Other Things…” below for more things!!)

As I said, Jacky (Lily LaBeau) and Anna (Lily Carter) are old friends reuniting after five years of pretty much no communication.

Anna is the nice one. She’s described as being the brainy and awkward “good girl.” Her parents died in a fire when she was three, and she has since been raised by her grandmother, whose health is now failing. This is why she’s reaching out to her old friend Jacky – as any young person in her situation might be, Anna is terrified of being alone in the world.

Jacky is the mean one, the cold one. Popular and cavalier with a little bit of “poor little rich girl” syndrome, you get the impression that maaaybe she befriended Anna back in the day because there was something more to her than just a pretty blonde face. And when Anna first gets to LA and Jacky goes on about the importance of luxury and more “frivolous” pursuits, you start thinking that this is gonna be a “you’ve changed, and I don’t really know you anymore” story. But, as the film progresses, you see that Jacky simply is sadistic – torturing Anna (at least on this day) is what she enjoys most.

And Anna is like an abused puppy, so starved for any shred of love or connection or history that she keeps putting herself and her emotions at Jacky’s mercy. Herein lies both subtle and overt BDSM tie-ins.

(pictured: Lily and Lily as Anna and Jacky)

The climax of Wasteland is Jacky’s final sadistic boundary push. Jacky takes Anna to this sexual inferno club place where anything goes, and some BDSM-themed sex unfolds (hence the overt tie in). You get the impression that, while she’s definitely into it, the entire thing is way beyond Anna’s daily comfort level.

But beyond the overt, on a more subtle, yet far more intense, level, this entire BDSM sex club set up gets at the unhealthy sadomasochistic relationship that exists between the two girls.

You see, a large measure of care (and love) is present in every healthy dominant/submissive relationship, be it a life-long partnership or just an afternoon of play – this is a commonly misunderstood fact. However, there is no care or love present in this Jacky/Anna scenario, at least not on Jacky’s end. And when it finally dawns on Anna that Jacky doesn’t give a shit about her… that she’s not pushing her boundaries to bring her out of her shell or help her move on to a new stage in her life… that she steals her boyfriends and lashes out cruelly and goads her into the sexual extremes just to fuck with her… well, then Anna leaves. Without saying goodbye.

(it’s important to note that the other sex scenes in this film are not overtly BDSMy in any way – the scenes between the two girls are haunting in a sad, desperate way; and the remaining trysts, the ones where Anna is emotionally pained while watching Jacky do any number of asshole things, though beautifully shot, are fairly intense-but-straightforward fare)

On the surface, Wasteland is visually stunning porn – the sex is luscious, the music is amazing, and the film is well-done in every respect. And, even on a most superficial level, it’s a really good story. But I found the deeper issues and themes associated with Anna’s emotional growth to be Wasteland’s most compelling elements.

Wasteland is a story about a young woman breaking away from an unhealthy, extremely intense, and long-standing relationship after she finally realizes its true nature. It’s also about the nasty competative dynamic that can characterize some friendships (maybe those are sadomasochistic, too?) and the sad reality of pain that can come from not bending to social pressures (ie the social pressure to bang Xander Corvus at a bonfire party while your manipulative “BFF” is waiting in the wings).

 

Other Things…

- Though both Lilys are billed equally and though I cannot conceive of better performances from either, Wasteland is Lily Carter’s movie. Her character is the one changing, and the story is told from her perspective. She gets more time to show a wider range of performance skills, and she is just incredible.

- Watching the deleted scenes changes the movie!!!!!!!!

You see more little moments where Jacky is extra-awful, but you also see moments that may be conveying her humanity – it’s unclear if she’s really volunteering just for the hot boys… or if maybe she actually cares about something. There’s also an extended ending that shows her being very upset when she discovers Anna has left without saying goodbye.

Now maybe this is all a ploy (it could be), and maybe Jacky is just upset because she no longer has her little puppy to torture… but maybe she’s actually lonely and damaged herself? (she is) Maybe she finally realized that she was careless with the one person who actually cared about her..? The deleted scenes open up these possibilities, making the film even more complex.

 

Recommended for: everyone

Yes, Wasteland is an excellent film in of itself. But the fact that it incorporates hardcore sex into the process of telling a difficult, intense, and not unfamiliar story – a story that I don’t think could have been conveyed effectively otherwise – shows the wide and uplifting possibilities for film… and for porn.

Here’s the trailer:

 

Also, here –> http://community.elegantangel.com/Trailers/WASTELANDTEASER.mov

Elegant Angel’s Community –> here <– is an excellent blog-style site that keeps you updated on EA happenings.

Reviews of more Elegant Angel content (and some more commentary in general) on PVV can be found here.

 

With Performances By…

This film belongs to Lily Carter and Lily LaBeau

Also featuring: Liza Del Sierra, Manuel Ferrara, Xander Corvus, Toni Ribas, Mick Blue, Sparky Sin Claire, Alec Knight, Ramon Nomar, Sarah Shevon, Tiffany Doll, Proxy Paige, David Perry, Karlo Karrera, Brian Street Team, David Perry, and Eric John

Elegant Angel’s Wasteland (2012) was written and directed by Graham Travis. It releases on September 5, 2012.

Buy your copy and/or watch it now here.

BTS/Extras: see above

 

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Images used with permission from Elegant Angel.

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production

5 thoughts on “Review – Elegant Angel’s Wasteland (2012)

  1. I reviewed the movie for Xcritic in the usual manner, trying to convey the specifics of the sex more than disclose the plotted elements but you make a number of excellent observations regarding the characters and their motivations. The movie did not make me cry but it definitely stood out as something better than the usual parody, couples romantic flick, or gonzo fodder (all of which have had some fine entries in recent times by the way).

    Take a glance at my review, http://www.xcritic.com/review/38813/lily-labeau-wasteland/ , and see a different kind of take on it, the strengths of the production sure to win acclaim later this year for all the right reasons. As much as I have praised Elegant Angel’s gonzo offerings over the years (I admit to being a fan of their production team and often inspired casting efforts), these yearly features by Graham are the kind of thing I appreciate and suggest to friends time and again.

  2. @Don – I honestly don’t feel I was even able to do this film justice…

    and your reviews always get at so much that I don’t cover (namely, exposition around the sex, which is always good but ESPECIALLY relevant in this case – the way the scenes were portrayed in the actual film was one thing, but the set of full-length scenes included on the second disc was another entirely).

    We should find a way to link them… “Dr Chauntelle said, Don Houston said” – two totally different takes on awesome projects!!

  3. I’d be willing to start a series of “Doc said/Don said” reviews.

    One of the things I like about reading your reviews is that they are original and cover ground no one else has (or will). It doesn’t mean I’ll always agree with you but our track record is pretty tight…

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