Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
"Afternoon Delight" Isn't Really a Delight
After a relatively successful festival run that included appearances at Sundance, Provincetown Film Festival, and a couple other festivals writer/director Jill Soloway's Afternoon Delight arrives for a limited theatrical run courtesy of indie distrib Film Arcade.
Soloway picked up a directing prize at Sundance for the film and the film itself was nominated for the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, though the film's themes and presentation are likely to be more festival friendly than audience friendly and prospects for box-office are modest at best.
The film centers around Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), a likable stay-at-home mom with a stale sex life, and Jeff (Josh Radnor), her stale partner. To spice up their sex life, they visit a strip club but rather than being excited by it all Rachel finds herself sympathetically drawn to McKenna (Juno Temple), a seemingly more sexually free young woman whom Rachel immediately likes and hires as her live-in nanny.
While the film itself doesn't ever completely gel, it is worth seeing almost solely for Kathryn Hahn's conflicted yet luminous performance as Rachel, a woman who seems to carry more than a little guilt for the wealthy life that she lives courtesy of her apps developer husband. This film could have so easily been played for nothing but laughs, but Hahn's Rachel is nothing short of revelatory in the layers she adds to Rachel's persona.
Afternoon Delight very much depends upon the chemistry between Hahn and Temple and that chemistry is one of honesty, naturalness, and vulnerability. There are scenes that hint of intimacy and that awkward dance between Rachel's maternal instincts and a deeper desire for intimacy, sexuality and more. The two actresses play these scenes quite nicely and at times leave us wishing the whole film could have been nothing but them.
Alas, it's not "nothing but them" and none of this is to say that Radnor is irrelevant here. Eventually, it becomes apparent the direction that Afternoon Delight must and will go as McKenna's lifestyle eventually becomes too much and she must go on her way. One can't help but wonder if she has been as liberated by her experiences with Rachel as has been Rachel as she returns to a husband who likely loved her all along.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic