‘Sharp Stick’ Review: Lena Dunham’s Third Major Act Is Her First Disappointment

1/23/2022 7:00:00 AM

‘Sharp Stick’ Review: Lena Dunham’s Third Major Act Is Her First Disappointment

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‘Sharp Stick’ Review: Lena Dunham’s Third Major Act Is Her First Disappointment

For a decade, Lena Dunham has kept more than busy, executive producing TV series like “Camping” and “Generation” and putting out her memoir. Yet she’s been notably selective…

THIS??!!The answer is that she has made a movie in which you feel her desire to get a rise out of you more than you actually feel connected to anything onscreen.The heroine, Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), may be in her mid-20s, but in spirit she’s very much a

girl, with a MacBook decorated by stars and kitty-cat faces, a voice of sugary flower-child innocence, and a tentative manner that marks her as the very quintessence of a waif. She has grown up on the outskirts of Hollywood along with her temperamentally opposite sister, Trey (Taylour Paige), an aspiring influencer whose booty dancing in the opening scene announces that this is not going to be a demure movie; and their mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, laying on the L.A. jadedness with a poison-tongued comedy as wry as it is theatrical. This wreck of a matriarch, who manages their gray-stucco apartment complex with the scrubby plants on the outside, has been married and divorced five times. But she’s also a New Age flake who has fused her failure at relationships with her leftover ’70s “philosophy” to create a toxic brew of advice for her daughters. Namely: Go out, have your kicks, do whatever you want, but don’t ever expect those men to stick around.

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🤮🤮🤮 This pedophile and anything she does is garbage. It’s really nauseating to read how deeply the writer of this piece licks her snatch as though she’s some modern day Bob Dylan of storytelling. Puke! What did you expect? Everything she does is garbage.

Lena Dunham’s ‘Sharp Stick’: Film Review | Sundance 2022The 'Girls' star-creator's new film focuses on a sexually inexperienced young Los Angeles woman having an affair with her older employer. She is the worst So probably better named 'Usual Shtick' 😍

Sundance Review: Lena Dunham’s ‘Sharp Stick’Lena Dunham hasn’t made a feature film since Tiny Furniture 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—running Girls for six seasons, conceiving another series, writing two books, acting here… Lol I was waiting for the downside 😂😂😂 A couple of corrections. Her sister isn’t a club promoter, her ex bf is. Main character didn’t write letters to several porn stars, only to one.

Sundance Review: Lena Dunham’s ‘Sharp Stick’Lena Dunham hasn’t made a feature film since Tiny Furniture 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—running Girls for six seasons, conceiving another series, writing two books, acting here… Lol I was waiting for the downside 😂😂😂 A couple of corrections. Her sister isn’t a club promoter, her ex bf is. Main character didn’t write letters to several porn stars, only to one.

Lena Dunham’s ‘Sharp Stick’: Film Review | Sundance 2022The 'Girls' star-creator's new film focuses on a sexually inexperienced young Los Angeles woman having an affair with her older employer. She is the worst So probably better named 'Usual Shtick' 😍

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And THIS??!! The answer is that she has made a movie in which you feel her desire to get a rise out of you more than you actually feel connected to anything onscreen.has always courted controversy — as a writer, director, actress and public figure.hasn’t made a feature film since Tiny Furniture 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—running Girls for six seasons, conceiving another series, writing two books, acting here and there.hasn’t made a feature film since Tiny Furniture 12 years ago, but she has some plausible excuses—running Girls for six seasons, conceiving another series, writing two books, acting here and there.

The heroine, Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth), may be in her mid-20s, but in spirit she’s very much a girl , with a MacBook decorated by stars and kitty-cat faces, a voice of sugary flower-child innocence, and a tentative manner that marks her as the very quintessence of a waif. She has grown up on the outskirts of Hollywood along with her temperamentally opposite sister, Trey (Taylour Paige), an aspiring influencer whose booty dancing in the opening scene announces that this is not going to be a demure movie; and their mother, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, laying on the L. Every accomplishment and misstep has been discussed to death on and offline, with an intrusive focus on her work, body and personal life.A. The result is an invigorating film about a beautiful woman who, in her mid-20s, sheds her lifelong avoidance of sex to dive into the deep end. jadedness with a poison-tongued comedy as wry as it is theatrical. It’s fitting, then, that her new feature, Sharp Stick , is as strange and provocative as its title and pedigree suggest. This wreck of a matriarch, who manages their gray-stucco apartment complex with the scrubby plants on the outside, has been married and divorced five times. Related Story Sundance Review: James Ponsoldt Directs Young Girls Coming Of Age Movie 'Summering' Deadline It’s fairly safe to say that no film has ever centered on a protagonist with an explained sexual history quite like that of the main character.

But she’s also a New Age flake who has fused her failure at relationships with her leftover ’70s “philosophy” to create a toxic brew of advice for her daughters. For better or worse, this is Dunham at her most liberated in years with a freewheeling tone that shakes off years of silence and scrutiny. But that can wait a moment, as it takes a while to make sense of the rather complicated living arrangements at a modest home in Los Angeles’ Atwater neighborhood. Namely: Go out, have your kicks, do whatever you want, but don’t ever expect those men to stick around. That’s part of why Sarah Jo is so withdrawn. The other reason, as we learn, is that she underwent a life-saving radical hysterectomy when she was 15, and it has literally scarred her; she scratches the marks from the procedure on her lower abdomen as if they were itches from hell. The latter’s mom Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is an apartment manager, while Black adopted sister Treina (Taylour Paige), a club promoter, has limited patience for family shenanigans. Sarah is working as a special-needs caregiver for Zach (Liam Michel Saux), whose parents are about to have another child. In short, the household is something of a zoo full of impulsives, none of whom exactly have their acts together.

They’re played by Dunham, as an overworked real-estate broker who takes out her frustrations on her husband, and Jon Bernthal , who plays Josh, the husband, as a stay-at-home slacker who’s like Paul Rudd’s Valley Dude brother. He’s a harmless goof, but we can see that he’s sexy enough to be trouble. At least vaguely aware of his immaturity, Zach bends over backwards to admit his need for self-improvement. Sarah Jo is drawn to him with a purpose — she wants, at last, to lose her virginity. But also because it sets up the kind of reckless situation that Dunham thrives on. Their sizzling affair is the best part of the movie, because it flows like life. Now, however, she wants to move forward and senses she’ll be in good hands with old pro Zach, who, it unsurprisingly turns out, used to be a porn star. Now, however, she wants to move forward and senses she’ll be in good hands with old pro Zach, who, it unsurprisingly turns out, used to be a porn star.

It’s people making bad decisions in a recognizable and entertaining way. And the joke, of course, is that all the erotic energy Sarah Jo has been tamping down comes busting out of her. Once she sleeps with Josh, she can’t get enough. She starts writing to porn stars she particularly admires, praising them for their special talents. Jon Bernthal is a captivating chameleon of an actor (I had to remind myself that this past year alone he has played the ruthless Johnny Soprano and the genial tennis coach Rick Macci), and he makes Josh a well-realized doofus-scoundrel, maybe a bit in the tradition of Adam Driver’s neurotic stud on “Girls.” And Kristine Froseth, whose apple-cheeked elegance suggests the young Joni Mitchell playing Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” enacts Sarah Jo’s painful shyness and subsequent erotic awakening with uncorny conviction. As amusing as it is, this latter stretch soon begins to feel a bit silly and indulgent; instead of settling into an at least marginally serious look at how adolescent sexual trauma has deeply messed with a young woman’s life, it feels more as though we’re at some Las Vegas convention dedicated to the latest in sex toys.

But where is all this going? The affair turns out to be merely the setup for the rest of the film, in which Josh introduces Sarah Jo to the universe of online porn, and she becomes an instant convert. Yes, we’re seeing and hearing stuff here we may never have seen in a mainstream film before, but it all begins to feel a bit outrageous just for outrageousness’ sake. This is clearly a good subject for a movie; Dunham should have made a full-fledged drama about it. But the last half hour of “Sharp Stick” plays, more than anything else, like a cooked-up episode. Turned on to porn, Sarah tries to dunk herself, almost literally overnight, in hardcore experience. All the same, the film captures an accurate Covid-era snapshot of short-tempered people getting on each others’ nerves due to the unnaturally and indefinitely protracted need to remain cooped up, sometimes in groups that never would have chosen such extended close proximity. She connects with strangers online, she makes an alphabetical list of all the outrageous activities she wants to try (A for anal, B for bukkake, C for creampie…), and she forms an attachment to an adult-film star, Vince (Scott Speedman), covered in bad-boy tattoos. As addled, frustrated and sidelined as nearly all the characters are under the extraordinary conditions, they still aren’t very different from Dunham’s—and most comedians’—usual collection of neurotics.

She seeks him out, and he responds and turns out to be…an aggro porn stud with a feminist heart of gold. I didn’t buy any of this. Must Read Stories Hide Articles. Not really. And I think that’s because it’s all a vehicle for what Dunham presents as her Big Message: a well-meaning but overly facile manifesto about sex positivity and the importance of cutting down on sexual anxiety in the age of online exhibitionism, all delivered in the movie by the most ironically wrong messenger you could imagine. Dunham, by the end of “Sharp Stick,” seems to be trying to speak directly to her fans — to help them, to give them the advice they need.

But that’s not what a good movie does. A good movies leads us through an experience authentic enough to take us out of ourselves. “Sharp Stick” winds up coming off like Lena Dunham’s version of a late-period Todd Solondz film. It pokes and prods the audience with the showoff naughtiness of its “incorrect” conceits, and then, in the guise of liberation, it strands you. optional screen reader .