Afternoon Delight Movie Review
There are some very dark corners in this cheeky comedy, which explores relationships and sexuality in unusually realistic ways. But filmmaker Jill Soloway doesn't offer easy answers, forcing her characters to sort out a messy situation on their own. And it's refreshing that we are left to find the message ourselves.
The story centres on stay-at-home mum Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), raising her young son Logan (Sawyer Ever) while her husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) is a hotshot app-creator. But this domestic set-up hasn't helped their sex life, so Rachel goes to a strip club with her pal Stephanie (Jessica St. Clair) for some inspiration. There she meets lap dancer McKenna (Juno Temple), and later contrives to become her friend, eventually inviting her to live in their spare room and work as a nanny to Logan. But of course Jeff is freaked out to have a stripper in the house.
After terrific supporting parts in everything from Revolutionary Road to Wanderlust, Hahn steps into a lead role like a natural. She holds the film together effortlessly, giving Rachel a loose complexity that makes her likeable even when she does something stupid. Her chats with her therapist (a hilarious Jane Lynch) help show how her life hasn't gone as expected, and the way she reaches out to this stripper feels intriguingly uncharacteristic and potentially perilous, but also edgy and invigorating. Opposite her, Temple is wonderfully free-spirited and unpredictable.
As things begin to erupt in all kinds of chaotic ways, writer-director Soloway continually refuses to preach at us. Every scene is played without moralising, subverting social expectations in ways that make us wonder how we would react in the same situation. And since all of this plays out from a female perspective, the movie continually subverts Hollywood's usual male-dominated ideas of female sexuality. This may sometimes leave us wondering what the film is trying to say, but it also makes it funny, moving and remarkably honest.