BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 15, 2013
Excuse the pun, but Juno Temple is a delight. Unafraid of her sexuality and always adding a deeper level to any of her characters, no matter how shallow, she is so enigmatic that even scenes where she’s in the background, she can be caught stealing it. Innocent and down-to-earth, her characters take on reality and authenticity that many young actresses fail to grab. In “Afternoon Delight,” she plays a full-service sex worker that the leading characters meet at a strip club. Although she’s a supporting character, she’s the highlight of the film, which would be a completely different dynamic without her. Kathryn Hahn leads the movie as Rachel, a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t quite fit in with the prissy moms at school and is feeling the effects of motherhood and the lull in her marriage, with Jeff, the always impressive Josh Radnor. He feels more at home in these independent films than anywhere else.
When McKenna (Juno Temple) ends up on the street, Rachel takes her in, despite her husband, friends, and therapist’s (Jane Lynch) vague warnings. The film handles its subject matter significantly and differently, offering subtle changes in the characters as these new living arrangements progress. The characters are open to experiences and never completely shut down anything, with “yes” being the most beneficial responses to any enthralling drama. McKenna has her effect on all the adults of the film, with Temple delivering one of the most excellent performances as a stripper I’ve ever experienced.
Of course, the downside to living with a sex worker creeps its way into the film, and Rachel discovers that you can’t save some people. Still, as with most coming of age stories, she learns something about herself and can move forward (without giving anything away). The film’s only downfall is several overly lengthy, drawn-out scenes including a strange discussion of abortions which carries on far too long (perhaps that’s the point), allowing these scenes to become stale and repetitive, with no clear end or significance to the rest of the plot. “Afternoon Delight” is an impressive, dramedy mixed with splendid performances all around and an original story, led by two solid female leads in Hahn and Temple.
August 30, 2013
The Film Arcade
(for strong sometimes graphic sexual content, language and some drug use)
Jessica St. Clair