By Jen Anthony
The Girl Next Door is a documentary that is so well done, and such an eye-opener that you have no choice but to sit up and take notice. The film follows porn star Stacey Valentine, also known in real life as Stacey Brooks. Throughout the course of one year of her life, the audience is privy to her many difficult moments, as well as the effects the industry has upon her. As Valentine goes about her work, the documentary crew accompanies her, giving rare insight into the back-room workings of the adult entertainment industry and what exactly it is like.
This movie is uncensored, and there are many moments that leave one feeling queasy, disgusted or just deeply saddened. When Valentine first starts out in the industry, she seems relatively unaffected by its vulgarity and by the fact that she gets paid to have sex. In fact, Valentine even suggests that people who love sex should be in the industry, not just people who are in it for the money. People who are in adult porn films simply for monetary reasons have a tendency not to show the true emotion of it all, Valentine suggests. They merely show dollar signs as they try to portray an orgasm on screen.
As the documentary progresses, Valentine’s true insecurities show, and it becomes evident how much she is affected by the industry. When she goes to visit a plastic surgeon, the camera crew accompanies her, and sure enough, as one of the many procedures is being performed, the crew films it.
In The Girl Next Door, director Christine Fugate did a fantastic job of capturing a scene from angles that give the viewer all the details they need to feel as though they themselves are there. Uncomfortable bedroom scenes, intense discussions, raw emotion, medical procedures… this documentary takes the audience into all these.
Through these efforts, the audience is really able to relate to and sympathize towards Valentine She becomes more than a porn star; she is a person who, like so many others, struggles to achieve happiness.
Everything about this documentary deserves to be commended. The production team did a great job of bringing the cinematography, the people, the scenes and the music together. The music is pertinent and compliments the scenes. It rises at opportune moments, and is dominant enough so that the scene becomes engraved on the mind.
Constantly, the director reminds us that this isn’t an actor, but someone’s life and the reality she is living.
The only possible complaint against this film is the length. It is a long watch–close to two hours– but this time isn’t wasted repeating things; instead, it is used wisely to show other aspects and perspectives.
All in all, The Girl Next Door is a documentary that stands on its own. It doesn’t need a critic or reviewer to prove its worth because the subject material itself is worthy of recognition and debate. This documentary speeds along the discussion of the adult film industry and brings it to the forefront.