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London Film Festival 2013: Afternoon Delight - Review

Afternoon Delight

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

KATHRYN Hahn gets a rare chance to shine in a leading role in quirky comedy-drama Afternoon Delight and lights up the screen with a bravura performance.

The actress, hitherto best known for recurring roles in Crossing Jordan and Parks & Recreation, plays 30-something Rachel, who has become bored with her seemingly idyllic life in LA’s affluent Silverlake neighbourhood, and on the lookout for something to spice things up (sexually and mentally).

When she is talked into visiting a stripclub with her husband and two friends, Rachel receives a lap dance from young stripper McKenna (Juno Temple) and promptly becomes obsessed with the seemingly vulnerable waif, striking up an unlikely friendship.

But then, in a moment of madness, she invites McKenna to stay in the hope of enabling the girl to get her life on track, but forgetting the disastrous impact it will have on her marriage and existing friendships.

Written and directed by Jill Soloway (of Six Feet Under and United States of Tara fame), Afternoon Delight is a provocative comedy that starts out like a suburban Pretty Woman before morphing into something far more edgy.

At first, audiences may view Rachel’s act of kindness as the launchpad for a familiar tale of someone unlikely helping out a hooker with all the baggage that brings. But this is firmly Rachel’s story and as the repercussions of her act begin to unfold with explosive consequences, it allows Hahn’s portrayal of the character to morph from something comedic to something quite overtly dramatic.

Rachel is a complex creation – by turns naive and frustrating, yet always sympathetic – and Hahn gets to explore a range of emotions without ever turning her into a caricature.

She’s ably supported, too, by Josh Radnor, as her continually exasperated husband, Temple as the volatile McKenna and even Jane Lynch as a psychiatrist with her own issues.

But Soloway’s script deserves credit for seldom shying away from the complexities her story unearths. This is far from cliched or predictable, offering up scenes that are often as outrageous as they are caustic and sometimes explicit. Indeed, some of the material makes for uncomfortable viewing.

In doing so, however, the film somehow feels more emotionally authentic, putting viewers through a range of emotions right up until the final, daring scene – in which, once again, Hahn literally throws herself heart, body and soul.

Certificate: 15tbc
Running time: 99mins
UK Release Date: tbc
London Film Festival Dates: October 12 (6.30pm, Ritzy), October 14 (Haymarket, 9pm), October 15 (Screen On The Green, 9pm)