A well-observed indie drama with unusual things to say about gay marriage and female sexuality
If you have a resistance to stories about privileged individuals suffering mild dissatisfaction with their too-smooth lives, this likely won’t be for you. These characters are rich. They are successful. They are, in the grand scheme of things, only very slightly troubled. But if you favour well-observed, gentle stories of the intimate lives of intelligent people, this is a classy example, with some unusual things to say about gay marriage and female sexuality.
Abby (Robin Weigert) is an elegant fortyish interior designer, in a steady but sexless long-term relationship with lawyer Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence), with whom she has two contented children. After suffering a blow to the head that somehow dislodges her capacity to act like an uncomplaining soccer mom, Abby realises she needs a change. Rather than, say, take a holiday, or get some couples therapy, however, she first chooses to make a sex-only date with a prostitute, and then to try the line of work herself, seeing a diverse range of female clients in a city loft that she’s refurbishing.
The adventures that result are depicted with neither moral hysteria nor undue prurience. Rather, the film gently emphasises the vastness and variety of sexual needs, pleasures and problems, whilst also confronting taboo by acknowledging that it’s perfectly possibly for women to be pleasure-driven, averse to intimacy and even sexually violent, and that a relationship between two women can be as susceptible to boredom, deception and manipulation as one involving a man.
Though Abby is an inescapably self-interested protagonist, Weigert’s nicely-judged performance gives her depth; and if the trendy blue-grey palette keeps things distinctly visually frigid, the film’s unpredictability and irrepressible sense of humour ensure that it stays on the right side of the jaded cynicism that afflicts so many US indies set amid this sort of moneyed dissatisfaction.
Limited release from Fri 16 May.