A Film a Week - Rocco

We can all pretend to be so puritan and above it, but the fact is that the porn industry is a huge business that keeps growing year after year. In the age of Internet, porn has never been more accessible, yet more profitable and it has never been more diverse, and that tells something about the “taste” of humanity, even though most of the watchers like to keep the details for themselves. And, like any other business, porn has its own kings and queens. Until his retirement, it was Rocco Siffredi. This is the documentary about him.

He is not shy to tell the details about business. We will see him at work, on casting couch, testing the new, up and coming actresses, shoving his hand into their mouths, twisting their nipples, hitting them, basically demanding and getting the full submission. “If you don’t do anal, you have no chance in the business”, he says frankly. Yet, this does not fill him with joy, not anymore. One of the reasons is that he is getting old and tired, and the lifetime in business has taken its toll on his body – his back hurts.

The other is the fact that he is now a family man, married, with two teenage sons. He thinks that it is normal for them to think about sex and his line of work can ruin it for them. For himself, it was as much pleasure in some weird, perverse way, as it was pure work. Growing up in a big family and in poverty, under the shade of his domineering mother and typical Catholic guilt, he was taught that only those with money will get to have sex. Armed only with his “tool” and his will, he tried to make a living out of it, and to have, as much as it gets, a “normal”, loving family, children that love him and wife who supports him in doing his work.

The other kind of family we meet is his “work” family. The film takes us on tour from his native Ortona to Budapest where he resides, to Paris, Los Angeles and San Francisco where he does his work. We meet his relative and right hand (producer, screenwriter, camera operator and so on) Gabriele Galetta, a man who will lose a part of his identity and all his work when Rocco retires and is quite crossed with it. There are also his co-stars and business partners like James Deen, Abella Danger, Mark Spiegler and John Stagliano who will all have the time to express their views on business. There is Rocco’s wife Rosza Tano, who also comes from the industry (she was a make-up artist on the set). And there is Kelly Stafford, Rocco Siffredi in the female form, the only one who truly understands his sexual energy and the only one he is willing to submit to, which leads to a grand finale, Rocco’s last picture.

The film itself has problems with focus at first and it is evident that its star has taken over right from the start. The problem is not that Rocco is not an interesting person, because he is, and his life and career is a real story. But he is not as eloquent as he thinks he is, and much of his “wisdom” from “real life” will seem like an undercooked cliché along the lines of his Catholic upbringing or just kind of sleazy. There is also a slight problem with the lack of standpoint of the director duo, Thierry Demaiziere and Alban Teurlai, who are, obviously, both too impressed with their subject.

Luckily, when it comes to the business, Rocco as a character is more frank and vocal, and film converges to something more meaningful once it gets solely on that track in the second half. More emotions will be shown in bizarre rituals like naked people congratulating one another after the gangbang scene, in cigarette break during the shooting, in Gabriele’s mess-ups and temper issues and in melancholy of finally closing a certain chapter in life, no matter how hard it got. Rocco is a stunning portrait of an industry from the insider’s perspective and deserves the praise for that.

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