Afternoon Delight – LFF Film Review

Afternoon Delight

I’m ashamed to say that I was tricked. When I decided to see Afternoon Delight I thought I would be seeing a light-hearted comedy about an unlikely friendship between a bored housewife and a stripper. I was expecting a few laughs and for the stripper to end up turning her life around, the housewife to feel fulfilled, and for me to get some light relief from the emotional onslaught that the London Film Festival has become. Thankfully this was not to be.

The housewife in question is Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) whose career in PR came to a halt following the birth of her son and whose life now consists of crafting with fellow mothers and being ignored by her suddenly successful husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) who is too busy checking his BlackBerry and trying mid-life crisis activities (surfing, forming a band, that sort of thing) with the other dads. Their sex life now non-existent Rachel suggests they go to a strip club in order to spice things up in the bedroom. At the club Rachel gets a lap dance from stripper McKenna (Juno Temple) and they soon form an occasional friendship which results in McKenna moving in with the family after the car she is sleeping in is towed.

So far it sounds like a fun comedy right? A stripper living with a middle class family, whatever next!

Well what happens next is that the comedy slowly turns darker and evolves through comedy-drama into an out-and-out drama. McKenna’s involvement in the sex industry turns out to be much more… practical than they originally thought and the bored and sexually frustrated Rachel allows herself to take the whole situation a little too lightly and gets far to involved in the antics of their house guest.

It isn’t long before Rachel has changed her mind about McKenna as soon she no longer wants to save the young woman from a life of prostitution but instead simply wants her out of the house. Over one evening we see the mothers and fathers have separate drunken nights in and as the drink flows the camera starts to veer all over the place and in gloriously dramatic fashion everything comes to a head. What seemed like a bit of fun suddenly garners serious consequences and the polite world they inhabit with its first world problems comes crashing down around everyone involved.

Writer/director Jill Soloway has done a remarkable job of creating a film with such a dramatic shift in tone from start to finish. I was completely wrong footed and totally underestimated the film’s emotional potential when it began. Kathryn Hahn gives a hilarious but deeply sad performance as the women who proves that the devil makes work for idle thumbs and Juno Temple is surprisingly sympathetic as the sex worker who decides that revenge is a dish best served naked. Josh Radnor is Josh Radnor, which is no bad thing, and Jane Lynch manages to get a laugh simply by appearing on-screen in her small role as Rachel’s therapist.

Don’t underestimate Afternoon Delight; it may seem like a simple comedy but it has a sting in its tail that will strike once your defences are down.

Afternoon Delight does not yet have a UK release date.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

And the Winner is… Golden Globes 2011

On Monday morning the Golden Globes were awarded to some deserving recipients in the film categories, and some less deserving recipients in the TV categories.

The Social Network, our 2nd best film of 2010, picked up Best Score, Best Drama, Best Director and Best Screenplay in a clear sweep of all but the acting awards. No arguments there, it is a great film that goes way beyond being a Facebook movie.

The Kid’s Are All Right did well out of the Golden Globes’ bizarre system of splitting films into drama and comedy/musical for a few categories. While the directors all go head to head the actors and films don’t have to. With The Kid’s Are All Right being classed as a comedy (not a drama?) it was an easy win in Best Comedy for the wonderful Annette Bening in Best Actress.

In the drama acting categories the vibe was set for future award ceremonies with Colin Firth and Natalie Portman taking the top honours. Two very deserving wins and two lovely acceptance speeches, now Firth is sure to get a BAFTA now and they could both do well at the Oscars.

The Fighter also did well for itself in a supporting manner, winning Best Supporting Actor and Actress in two categories that were not split into drama and comedy/musical. Not sure where the HFPA draw the line at which categories to split and which require comedians and dramatic actor to battle it out. Regardless, having not seen The Fighter, I feel like some personal favourites had their award taken from them.

Toy Story 3 won Best Animated Film in the most predictable category of the night… there really is nothing more to say on that.

TV went crazy, Glee is not the best comedy, Boardwalk Empire not the best Drama and Jim Parsons, Chris Colfer, Laura Linney and Steve Buscemi did not put in the best performances this year. Katey Sagal I can’t comment on and Jane Lynch is the exception as someone who was easily one of the best in her category. A couple of these awards looked a lot like rewarding movie actors for doing TV to encourage them to keep going, rather than judging the actual performances.

Next up: The BAFTAs!