Film Review: Afternoon Delight (2013)

“The cure for the common marriage” reads the tagline for this 2013 drama from writer/director Jill Soloway and starring Kathryn Hahn and Josh Radnor. If the cure for such an ailment is boredom, confusion and frustration then herein lays a successful treatment.

Afternoon Delight is, in short, the story of Rachel (Kathryn Hahn); a bored, underappreciated housewife’s journey for sexual fulfilment. To do so, she decides to visit a strip club, befriend and then hire one of the strippers (Juno Temple) to become the live-in nanny for her infant child. Rachel sees no issue with this. Her husband, Jeff (Josh Radnor) is mildly concerned about the complete stranger at the breakfast table with his 5 year-old son Logan, but why make too big a deal about it?

Rachel wants to get to know McKenna (the stripper because strippers have ridiculous names) and as a result perhaps to learn from her, to learn more about herself and maybe change both of their lives for the better. The relationship between the two lead women is a strange one to say the least. This could be attributed to McKenna’s troubled background and Rachel’s obvious current issues but it is an incredibly confusing set up.

Then a scene where McKenna is teaching Rachel and her friend to dance erotically followed by a dip in the pool where McKenna gives details of her “sex-worker” lifestyle. Yes, Rachel, she’s a prostitute. Therefore, get her out of your house and away from your family. Report her to the police. Or to put it more eloquently as Rachel’s friend does in the best line of the film “Logan’s five, get her the f*** out”. No. Why would Rachel do that? Instead, why not offer to allow her to remain in her home rent-free in exchange for taking care of Logan? Yes, that is much more logical. My brain hurts.

It is a shame the writing is so unrealistic and confusing because it is a nice looking film. We feel Rachel’s loneliness through an abundance of isolated shots and close-ups. Some of the scenes and set-ups are quirky and a little humourous at times. I even felt a few moments of pity for Rachel but these were quickly dashed with the sheer ignorance and stupidity of the character. The film is a series of things that happen but the connections between these things are missing. Jeff is a one dimensional character and every second scene I questioned something and I never ever felt satisfied with the answers I got.

The conclusion of the film was fine but the concluding chapter of McKenna’s story was laughable and yet again confusing, unnecessarily graphic and arbitrary even.


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