Skip to main content

A scene from "Inside Lara Roxx"

Handout

3 out of 4 stars

Country
USA
Language
English

Intentional or not, the commercial release of Inside Lara Roxx is timely since it's occurring less than a month after Los Angeles city council mandated that porn performers wear condoms in all films of that ilk shot within city limits.

To wear a condom – or not? To insist on its use – or not? These are, in fact, a couple of the big questions in Inside Lara Roxx, the desperately sad, almost unremittingly bleak true story of a gamine-like Québécoise wild child who travelled to Los Angeles in 2004 to break into the porn biz, only to end up testing positive for HIV shortly thereafter after shooting an unprotected sex scene with two males. Her plight at the time prompted headlines around the world – 10 stories or more in Toronto newspapers alone.

As ever in the news biz, though, the caravan soon moved on to other, fresher "unspeakable practices, unnatural acts." The great virtue of Mia Donovan's subterranean-budget documentary – it had its world premiere at last year's Hot Docs Festival – is its refusal to let Lara Roxx fade away, its willingness to hang in not just one or two years after Roxx's 15 minutes of semi-fame but for more than six.

Story continues below advertisement

At its core, Inside Lara Roxx is about degradation – the degradation of women by men, self-degradation, the exploitation of that degradation, the social, cultural and institutional circumstances that are its precondition, the degradation that comes with the industrialized routinization of the exchange of "precious bodily fluids," to quote the late Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

Blessedly, director Donovan doesn't belabour this theme; instead, it hangs like a miasma over the film the way smog sometimes hangs heavy over the "San Pornando" Valley.

You may wonder if Inside Lara Roxx is itself exploitative. A wary Roxx posits the question on camera when, after earning $10,000 for a sensationalistic appearance on The Maury Povich Show, she and Donovan decide to return to Los Angeles in mid-2007 to meet a potpourri of Roxx's former associates – porn agents, fellow actresses, the doctor who diagnosed her HIV, a one-time performer now running a counselling agency called Protecting Adult Welfare, people with noms de porn like Lara Roxx – Anita Cannibal, Dick Nasty.

Eventually, one concludes that Inside Lara Roxx is no exercise in prurience bur rather a bearing witness. A former stripper herself, Donovan works hard and with considerable thoroughness to contextualize Roxx's situation, to try to make us sympathize with her frequently infuriating subject without getting bathetic.

As Roxx stumbles from hospital to grotty apartment and back, from crack addiction to rehab centre, we meet her mother and sister, the counsellors who looked after her when she was put in a juvenile detention centre at 14, and Wolf, the spooky boyfriend with the dreadlocks, tattoos, criminal record and hair-trigger temper.

There is hope at the end of Inside Lara Roxx. Not enough to make you break out singing "Girl, you're going to make it after all," but enough to suggest there is a way ahead.

Inside Lara Roxx opens Friday for a limited run at Toronto's Royal Cinema.

Story continues below advertisement

Inside Lara Roxx

  • Written, directed and co-produced by Mia Donovan
  • Starring Lara Roxx with appearances by Dick Nasty, Bill Margold, Ron Jeremy, Anita Cannibal
  • Classification: NA
  • 3 stars


Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter