If, like me, you go into Albertina Carri’s pornographic lesbian road movie, The Daughters of Fire, knowing it ends in an orgy, you might think the movie is about to end the entire time.
But, let me tell you, there is a big difference between group sex and an orgy.
When it happens you will know.
The Daughters of Fire is a pornographic film and it’s also a film about being a pornographic film. Throughout, the protagonist, Agustina, narrates questions about lesbian desire and, specifically, capturing that desire on screen. The character wants to put these questions into porn and the film we’re watching is something close to what she’ll someday make.
It begins with Agustina coming home to Argentina from a trip to Antarctica. Her girlfriend, Viole, welcomes her home by fucking her again and again and again.
During a bar fight with some homophobes, the couple meets a third poly lesbian and they set off on a road trip. They add more and more queers to their van, each new addition leading to a new sex scene.
There’s little actual drama, but what does take place is handled subtly and pointedly. Minor jealousies, scars from the past, men who need to be put in their place. The characters feel fully developed by these small moments and knowing who these people are makes the sex all the more enjoyable to watch.
There’s a tenderness in the sex and in the moments in between. This group of queers form their own traveling commune, taking care of each other, loving each other and on each other, suggesting an alternative to cisheteropatriarchy. But the tenderness of emotion does not mean a softness to the sex. In fact, a large amount of the sex, especially in the second half, is kink-focused.
The ease that this group, and the film, has to inclusivity is also a pleasure to watch. There’s a wide range of body types, gender presentations, and sexual proclivities. They even pick up a trans woman along the way who’s transness is never addressed, Viole focusing instead on the sexy way she rolls her R’s.
The film not only suggests an alternate way of life, an alternate way of approaching sex, romance, family, and friendship, an alternate way of existing as oneself. It also suggests an alternate approach to pornography.
Agustina, and Carri, question whether a movie is still porn if it’s created by female desire, reaching for something deeper than an orgasm. Carri’s conclusion is, yes, and that was definitely my conclusion as well. Just because you leave the movie feeling emotionally fulfilled and intellectually challenged, doesn’t mean it’s any less erotic. Just because you leave the movie feeling good, doesn’t mean you can’t also have an orgasm.