Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
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 Jill 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 hardly as if these women haven’t noticed that real love is often complex and tough, but much more nourishing too - and definitely funnier. — BG