Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Afternoon Delight (SIFF 2013) - Movie Review

Afternoon Delight could either be called a dramatic comedy or a comedic drama and either one would be correct. Director Jill Solloway's debut feature film comes complete with a very solid cast including Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, and Jane Lynch.

Rachel (Hahn) is a stay at home mom who has found herself unhappily looking at her life from the outside as everything she is supposed to be enjoying seems like something she doesn't really want. Sure, she has a successful husband and a circle of friends that might rival those on a cable TV show, but none of it seems fulfilling in any way and, before she realizes what's going on, a full blown mid life crisis is well under way. What better way to remedy the situation than a night out at a strip club with her very reluctant husband Jeff (Radnor).

After receiving a lap dance by a very seductive and intriguing girl names McKenna (Temple), Rachel becomes obsessed with learning more about this free spirited young woman and goes so far as to set up a "chance meeting" outside the strip club to introduce herself again. When McKenna loses her home, Rachel agrees to take her in as a live in nanny for her daughter partly to help out the troubled teenager, but also to give herself a chance to experience new adventures for herself. What starts out as an attempt at spicing up her life, could end up turning her entire world upside down.

What stood out right away to me was how, for a debut effort, Solloway's talents as a director made this movie seem like the result of someone who had been working at their craft for years. Her ability to draw such honest emotions out of the actors was spot on and Kathryn Hahn gives a performance that should get her noticed as a candidate for even more prominent roles. For Juno Temple, its no real surprise to see her play a stripper as she has already established herself firmly as the go to actress when it comes to young screen vixens although she still manages to give McKenna a sense of realism that keeps the character from becoming too much of a cliché.

Afternoon Delight is a good movie that has a lot going for it including a director and lead actress who both seemed to have stepped into this project with something to prove. While the story is far from perfect, what makes the movie ultimately work is its ability to draw you into the characters lives even when you don't like the decisions they make or the situations they put themselves through. By the time its over, you will most likely walk away wanting to give your own daily struggles a reality check and maybe you'll find just as much humor in them as this story manages to find in its own.


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