Afternoon Delight (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Afternoon Delight</strong> (2013)

(On Cable TV, November 2015) I’m not sure how or why Kathryn Hahn ended up associated with raunchy comedy in my mind (although watching her roles as borderline-deviant in Bad Words and This is Where I Leave You probably explains it), but it may have led to wrong assumptions in watching Afternoon Delight.  Billed as a low-key comedy in which a frustrated suburban mom changes her life after befriending a stripper, Afternoon Delight ends up being a somewhat miserable drama in which a well-off mother uses then discards a sex worker to rekindle her marriage.  This sounds worse than it is, but the truth is that there’s a surprisingly reprehensible way to read Afternoon Delight that may not be what writer/director Jill Soloway intended.  In-between the naturalistic staging, unspectacular camera work, tonal issues and decidedly un-triumphant ending in which a character gets sidelined after serving her purpose, Afternoon Delight is the kind of independent low-budget drama that seduces with an interesting premise and unsettles with an intensely uncomfortable third act. (That princess-trinket scene… heart-breaking.)  Hahn does quite a bit better as a complex lead character than in her more usual scene-stealing comic roles, while Juno Temple is also quite good as the young woman who upsets the protagonist’s world – both of them, though, aren’t well-served by the end stretch of the film, which seems happy throwing away an entire character just to make its lead couple happy.  Maybe that’s the point; maybe that’s an accident –all I know is that by the end of Afternoon Delight, I didn’t want anything to do with anyone in the film.

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