Afternoon Delight Blu-ray Review
Rachel knows a lot of women have it worse, but she’s still unhappy: She hasn’t had sex with her husband, Jeff, in six months, she’s having trouble connecting with her young son and the majority of the names on her caller ID log are “Home,” “Jeff Work” and “Jeff Cell.”
She needs a change to spice things up. That’s when her friend tells her to try out a strip club. “We go, get all hot and go home and…” she tells her. So Rachel (Kathryn Hahn, NBC’s CROSSING JORDAN) and Jeff (Josh Radnor, CBS’ HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER) give it a shot. But having a 19-year-old grind her in the back room isn’t exactly a turn-on and she ends up vomiting in the toilet.
By chance, she comes across the girl, McKenna (Juno Temple, winner of the EE Rising Star Award at the 2013 BAFTAs), again. After McKenna gets her car impounded, Rachel feels sorry enough to take her in. Rachel’s jumping from friendly conversation to giving the teen stripper fresh bed sheets is a tad extreme, but then that’s just how determined she is to do something important with her life.
But it’s hard not to question Rachel’s methods for improving her life. Surely there is a long list of activities between fiddling around on Twitter and blogs and hiring a stripper/prostitute as a nanny. And what exactly does Rachel want to accomplish with McKenna? She says she wants to get her out of the “sex worker” life, but what does she have to replace it with other than the lifestyle of constant boredom she knows so well?
AFTERNOON DELIGHT is the directorial debut of Jill Soloway, who previously wrote for HBO’s SIX FEET UNDER and Showtime’s UNITED STATES OF TARA. Soloway also wrote the script, which earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay. There are certainly quite a few questionable plot and character elements (Rachel clearly doesn’t want anything for McKenna, but rather from) and some silly attempts at symbolism (Rachel goes through the car wash as she prepares to “cleanse” her life), but the script is still overall a pretty good one.
The dialogue is sharp without being absurd and self-congratulatory (see: Cody, Diablo), which helps make the characters more developed. While Soloway might be worth following, it’s Hahn who deserves the most attention. Hahn’s comedy chops were seen in smaller roles in movies like OUR IDIOT BROTHER, WANDERLUST and WE’RE THE MILLERS, but here she gets a chance to show she can be the lead when given the chance. She is quite funny when necessary, but she’s also a very talented dramatic actress, as illustrated in the movie’s more straight and uncomfortable moments, as when Rachel tags along to see a john or spills her guts to her girlfriends over wine.
AFTERNOON DELIGHT debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize (it lost to FRUITVALE STATION) and won the Directing Award (“For its deft balance of tone, its exceptional ensemble performances; an original storytelling.”).
AFTERNOON DELIGHT BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The movie has a fairly limited range of colors and tones and so this high-definition presentation, while decent enough, lacks any noticeable pop.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Subtitles in English. The dialogue is clean throughout, while the soundtrack proves effective when necessary
(Alabama Shakes’ “You Ain’t Alone” at the climax of the poker scene).
Audio commentary with director Jill Soloway and Kathryn Hahn: Soloway and actress Hahn offer a very easygoing track, dishing out various production tidbits while occasionally joking around with each other
Making AFTERNOON DELIGHT (9:17): Soloway, Hahn, Juno Temple, and Josh Radnor discuss the story, characters and themes of the movie.
The Gustavo House (1:47) briefly looks at the home of Rachel and Jeff, which was designed by architect Gustavo Gubel.
Featurettes (7:34): There are five here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “Becoming an Exotic Dancer,” “Dr. Lenore,” “Poker Night,” “Rachel & McKenna,” and “Women & Wine.” (It’s strange that “The Gustavo House” wasn’t also lumped in with these.)
Deleted Scenes (13:44): There are six here, which can also be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “A Kiss,” “Dildo Bag Scenes,” “Kosher Amanda’s Sex Fantasy,” “Pool Monologue,” “Rachel Calls Lenore,” and “Wetsuit Sequence.”