Lena Dunham’s first film in over ten years reveals minor artistic development

Lena Dunham’s second feature, “Sharp Stick”, opens with Taylor Paige performing a TikTok dance on a trap beat. In a typical year, this scene could quickly send an entire audience to a boil at a film’s premiere in Sundance: Dunham rubbed it in the face of critics who harrassed her for her lack of diversity over the course of six years. season of her popular HBO series, “Girls”. But this is no ordinary year, as COVID-19 has caused Sundance to cancel in-person festivals and move everything online.

After that opening act, Dunham immediately retreats to the familiar territory of a nuclear family with two sisters and a single mother, a dynamic that is no stranger to those who have seen the film. Tiny Furniture” released in 2010 by her. As Paige’s Treina works out her moves, her older sister, Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth, “The Assistant”) meekly grabs her phone taking pictures as their five-time divorced mother, Marilyn (Jennifer). Jason Leigh), musing about the internet celebrity who sharpens his teeth.

The film then cuts to a scene where they sit around a table together smoking and enjoying Khia’s famously lewd 2002 hit single, “My Neck, My Back (Lick It).” Apparently Marilyn considers herself one of the girls rather than a parent, as she tells them not to filter on sex and drugs. There’s a later scene that tells us how this interracial family came to be, though the explanation is superfluous; they are persuasive and exhibit good chemical reaction.

Turns out Treina is normie’s sister and Sarah Jo is actually Dunham’s on-screen avatar. While attending mostly Young People with Special Needs Necessary Care sessions, Sarah Jo hand-rubbed a scar near her private parts. Wearing plastic hairpins on her head and long sleeves under a floral frock, the 26-year-old exudes both the wide-eyed eagerness of Reese Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick from “Election” and her sheltered one.IAlana Haim’s doctor Alana Haim in “Licorice Pizza.” Sarah Jo is placed as a caregiver in the family of Zach (Liam Michel Saux), the connoisseur, white, stay-at-home dad, Josh (Jon Bernthal), and nagging, very pregnant broker mother, Heather (Dunham).

When Treina, through a bit of social media bragging, caught her man hanging out with her ex’s cousin at Universal Studios, Marilyn offered this advice: “Do you want to know if he’s real? is it yours? You look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Don’t you think I’m pretty?’ Great. . . Truth – men love a problem. Interesting men, you know, like complicated men, they love a backstory. But it was Sarah Jo who took the lesson and tested it on Josh, revealing her scar and sharing her hysterectomy. Although Josh was initially opposed, the prospect of fracturing a virgin was clearly too good for him to give up. However, the bloody affair that followed did not create any new ground.

With “Tiny Furniture” and “Girls,” Dunham detailed narcissism, purposeless living, internet fame, and the gig economy with the perfect pitch. . Although critics initially praised her for these social observations, her thoughtless actions on social media have since suggested that these anecdotes may be the product of a lack of awareness. self-awareness instead of introspection. These pieces of code are still in the “Sharp Stick”, although they are few and far between.

There’s a scary moment when Heather first compliments Sarah Jo for being “a gem” to Zach making her able to endure leaving him every day and going to work; In the same breath, Heather complains about Sarah Jo not cleaning up after Zach and putting his stuff away. There was also a revealing newborn bathing photo, which was released as an Instagram moment despite Treina having ended her pregnancy. Marilyn said: “We showed this kid that he was wanted even when he couldn’t get it done.

The “Tiny Interior” precedes the comparable work as “World’s Ugliest Man” by more than a decade, and that’s commendable. But at a time when Sarah Jo and Josh are sharing magic mushrooms, it doesn’t seem like Dunham hasn’t made much progress in all this time. She seems to be pushing herself outside of her comfort zone by placing “Sharp Stick” in Malibu instead of her old haunts in New York City, encapsulating the distinctive West Coast aesthetic and Warm, colorful but messy. She also shows maturity as an actress. But the use of instrumental music feels very general, nothing to blame for Indiewood. Indeed, the film’s novelty almost disappeared as soon as it exhausted its supply of shockingly valuable hip-hop music in its playlists.

Josh introduces Sarah Jo to internet pornography and she experiences an epiphany that opens the third act. She takes careful notes and manually compiles a handy list of sexual activities for her to tick off one by one. She is also obsessed with adult performer Vance Leroy (Scott Speedman) and begins to write to him. Pseudo-erotic inserts shot in the eyes of women quite amusing, with Vance saying “I feel so connected to you” while looking directly into the camera.

One aspect of the story that hasn’t been fully explored is the absence of a father in Sarah Jo’s upbringing. Is she yearning for a father figure instead of sex and doesn’t know the difference? Did she mistake Josh’s paternal instincts for flattery or some kind of pretense? Given Marilyn’s overt sexuality, it doesn’t make any sense if Sarah Jo would maintain her virginity until the age of 26. If the film meaningfully explores these questions instead of continuing with Sarah Jo’s Late Sex. mining, we may have had something special here.

“Sharp Stick” made its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

https://www.thewrap.com/sharp-stick-film-review-lena-dunham-taylour-paige/ Lena Dunham’s first film in over ten years reveals minor artistic development

Curtis Crabtree

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