Lena Dunham has not made a feature film since Tiny furniture 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses – running Girls for six seasons, conceiving another series, he wrote two books, acting here and there. It took a pandemic to force her to stay behind camera again, and the result is a film about people who live very close, do not go out much and, at least for some, have a lot of sex. A sharp stick filled with the energy of young people who wanted to do something, fast and down and dirty. The result is an invigorating film about a beautiful woman who in her mid-20s refuses sex for life to dive deep. The world premiere of FilmNation will take place in the “Premieres” section of this year’s festival.
It is safe to say that no film has ever focused on the protagonist with an explained sex story similar to the protagonist’s story. But that may wait a moment, as it takes some time to understand the rather challenging living conditions in a modest home in the Etowater area of Los Angeles.
The handsome, insignificant man in the house is the fast-talking Zach (John Bernthal), an incurable naughty man with an excessive desire to please, who still needs to learn a few key life lessons (and probably never will). Dunham plays his future wife Heather, whose sweet little son has mental health problems, and is cared for by babysitter Sarah Joe (Christine Frossett), a stunning person who is always smiling and a selfless person who warms everyone around.
The latter’s mother Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Lee) is the apartment manager, and Black Train’s foster sister (Taylor Page), the club’s promoter, has limited patience for family fraud. In short, a household is something like a zoo full of impulsive people, none of whom act together.
Sex has always played an important role in the creations of Dunham and never more than here, where things get complicated very quickly. At least, vaguely aware of his immaturity, Zack bends over to acknowledge his need for self-improvement. But the old hound dog apparently never dies, and if at a personal moment Sarah Joe confesses to him that at 26 she is still a virgin and would like him to cure her of the disease, the gentleman cannot find a way to give up.
There is a strange reason why Sarah Joe did not let anyone into her life or pants: she underwent a radical hysterectomy at 15 years old. However, now she wants to move forward and feels that she will be in good hands with the old professional Zack, who, not surprisingly, used to be a porn star. Sarah Joe and the film achieve a successful take-off here and leave Dunham to come up with a variety of sexual and dramatic permutations that send A sharp stick fly in a variety of unexpected directions.
As usual, the screenwriter-director doubles this setting to ensure that Sarah Joe makes up for lost time. She begins to write to porn stars, whom she especially admires, praising them for their special talents. She creates long lists of variations she wants to try – the Eiffel Tower, a jackhammer and cream to begin with – and you can imagine Dunham’s fun increasing with each passing minute as she sends Sarah Joe off on her long-delayed sex odyssey.
As amusing as it may be, this last plot soon begins to feel a little silly and indulgent; Instead of focusing on how teenage sexual trauma has heavily interfered with a young woman’s life, it seems like we’re at some convention in Las Vegas dedicated to new sex toys. Yes, we see and hear things we may have never seen before in a mainstream film, but it all starts to feel a little outrageous just for the sake of outrage.
However, the scenes and characters here feel fresh and alive, and most of Dunham’s outrageous gambits pay off with unexpected humor; few go where she goes and win the way she does. As always, her characters are full of flaws that are often so dramatic that they deviate from side nuances. However, the film captures an accurate picture of the Kovid era as passionate people poison each other’s nerves because of the unnatural and uncertain need to stay closed, sometimes in groups that would never have chosen such great intimacy.
Although almost all the characters are in unusual circumstances, they are not very different from the usual collection of Dunham’s neurotics – and most comedians – surprised, disappointed and negative. She made good use of her forced corps.