Wednesday, 29 January 2014

REVIEW - AFTERNOON DELIGHT


Not so much delight in this amiably erratic comedy from Jill Soloway, as she delves into the full spectrum of awkwardness faced by the modern American woman, constricted by comical societal conventions, and by a fundamental shyness and reluctance in her character. Truly, you've never seen so many white people problems in one woman alone, but Kathryn Hahn is a vivid and generous performer, and Soloway lampoons the lifestyle of her and her friends with such piquancy that this is easily overlooked. Hahn plays Rachel, who finds herself inexplicably compelled to befriend and eventually take in a stripper / sex worker, McKenna, after receiving a lapdance from her. As platonic as their relationship is, McKenna's presence begins to open Rachel's mind, including reigniting a long-dormant sexual spark between herself and her husband, but it also throws up understandable issues. Tonally, Soloway is refreshingly unconcerned with maintaining any kind of balance between the raunchy comedy in some of her scenarios and the incisive realism she infuses others with, and she yields instead to both. So the film is sloppy and shapeless, but in a charming manner. Still, for all its unexpected twists, the path she has drawn out through this plot is unfocused, and too quickly predicted. And those white people problems do grate, since this is yet another indie 'dramedy' about the difficulties of being rich and white in America; Soloway graciously doesn't demonise McKenna, whom Juno Temple inhabits with an impressive amount of confidence and conviction, but while Rachel's cluelessness about the effects their friendship is having on her life works well in Afternoon Delight's comedy scenes, it stretches credulity in the dramatic ones. A colourful cast is comfortable in a variety of roles, including Annie Mumolo, brilliant as Kosher Amanda, and Jane Lynch as Rachel's self-obsessed shrink Lenore.