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Sundance Overview: Lena Dunham’s ‘Keen Stick’

Lena Dunham hasn’t made a characteristic movie since Tiny Furnishings 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—working Women for six seasons, conceiving one more series, writing two books, performing right here and there. It took the pandemic to get her within the serve of the digicam again and, low and witness, the following…

Sundance Overview: Lena Dunham’s ‘Keen Stick’

Lena Dunham hasn’t made a characteristic movie since Tiny Furnishings 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—working Women for six seasons, conceiving one more series, writing two books, performing right here and there. It took the pandemic to get her within the serve of the digicam again and, low and witness, the following movie is about folks living in very conclude quarters, now no longer going out much and, at least for some, having a range of sex. Keen Stick brims over with the energy of kids that wished to possess something, instant and down and dirty. The consequence is an invigorating movie about an gorgeous girl who, in her mid-20s, sheds her lifelong avoidance of sex to dive into the deep stop. The FilmNation production is making its world premiere within the Premieres fragment of this one year’s competition.

Lower-off date

It’s slightly safe to command that no movie has ever centered on a protagonist with an explained sexual historical past pretty indulge in that of the major persona. But that can wait a moment, as it takes a whereas to possess sense of the rather complex living preparations at a modest home in Los Angeles’ Atwater neighborhood.

The staunch-having a look, staunch-for-nothing man of the home is speed-talking Josh (Jon Bernthal), an incurable philanderer with an excessive eagerness to please who quiet has some key existence classes to learn (and perhaps never will). Dunham plays his soon-looking ahead to wife Heather, whose candy young son has psychological disorders and is regarded after by nanny Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), a stunner who always wears a smile and has a selfless persona that warms all in her neighborhood.

The latter’s mom Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is an house manager, whereas Murky adopted sister Treina (Taylour Paige), a membership promoter, has restricted endurance for family shenanigans. In transient, the family is something of a zoo paunchy of impulsives, none of whom precisely own their acts together.

Sharp Stick
Kristine Froseth and Jon Bernthal in Lena Dunham’s “Keen Stick”
Sundance

Intercourse has always played a prime role in Dunham’s creations and never extra so than right here, where issues get very complex very instant. No longer now no longer as much as vaguely responsive to his immaturity, Zach bends over backwards to admit his want for self-enchancment. But an feeble hound canine never dies, curiously, and when, in a non-public moment, Sarah Jo confides to him that at 26 she’s quiet a virgin and would indulge in him to remedy her of this situation, the gentleman can’t derive a technique to refuse.

There is a startling motive Sarah Jo hasn’t let anyone into her existence, or pants: She had an intensive hysterectomy at 15. Now, nevertheless, she wants to transfer forward and senses she’ll be in staunch fingers with feeble pro Zach, who, it unsurprisingly looks, old to be a porn star. Sarah Jo and the movie reach successful retract-off right here, and mosey away it to Dunham to come serve up with all system of sexual and dramatic adaptations that send Keen Stick flying in every form of sudden directions.

Because it her wont, the author-director doubles down on this space-as much as insure that Sarah Jo makes up for misplaced time. She begins writing to porn stars she specifically admires, praising them for their special abilities. She creates long lists of adaptations she wants to retract a take a study—Eiffel Tower, jackhammer and creampie, staunch for starters—and likewise it is seemingly you’ll perchance perchance staunch imagine Dunham’s merriment increasing by the minute as she sends Sarah Jo out on her long-delayed sexual odyssey.

As fun as it is miles, this latter stretch soon begins to in truth feel a chunk foolish and indulgent; as an different of settling into an at least marginally excessive glance at how adolescent sexual trauma has deeply messed with a young girl’s existence, it feels extra as though we’re at some Las Vegas convention devoted to essentially the most up-to-date in sex toys. Yes, we’re seeing and listening to stuff right here we would possibly perhaps perchance perchance perchance never own viewed in a mainstream movie sooner than, but all of it begins to in truth feel a chunk unfriendly staunch for outrageousness’ sake.

Then again, the scenes and characters right here in truth feel freshly minted and alive, and most of Dunham’s unfriendly gambits repay in sudden humor; few mosey where she goes and safe the vogue she does. As ever, her characters are loaded with foibles that are recurrently so dramatic as to sideline nuance. The total the same, the movie captures an staunch Covid-era snapshot of short-tempered folks getting on every others’ nerves attributable to the unnaturally and indefinitely protracted favor to reside cooped up, in most cases in groups that never would own chosen such prolonged conclude proximity.

As addled, pissed off and sidelined as nearly your total characters are beneath the unheard of conditions, they quiet aren’t very varied from Dunham’s—and most comedians’—traditional series of neurotics. She’s made staunch exercise of her enforced enclosure.

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