When I first heard about this film, the plot mainly, I definitely thought it would be a foreign film since Europeans are more open to films dealing with sexual liberation. But I was wrong. It features middle-America suburbia; a modern family consisting of two mothers raising two children. In a way this reminds me of an updated, contemporary version of Revolutionary Road– focusing on the all too often not talked about problems within the home.
Feeling unsatisfied within one’s life can lead people down previously undiscovered paths of destruction. It can come out in different ways- midlife crises, plastic surgery, experimentation, adultery, or in this case, prostitution. Forty-two year old housewife, Abby is jaded and cynical- concerned with aging and fed-up with the monotony of packing sack lunches, home chores and choosing the perfect backsplash tile for her kitchen. After suffering a concussion at her son’s baseball practice, her life takes an unexpected turn.
As her life is in the midst of transformation it feels like, as the audience, we are dropping in the middle of scenes, not sure of what is going on exactly. But I think that is the point. Abby doesn’t seem to know what is going on in her life either- making rash choices without thinking about the consequences (like paying for a female prostitute.) She confides in the handyman who is working on her second home- a trendy New York loft, unsurprisingly the opposite of her suburban life. He is the only person she can be totally honest with. They say the most intimate and honest conversations you will have is with a stranger. There is no worry of judgment or repercussions.
Soon these rendezvous with women are not enough and Eleanor is born, her alter ego. Justin, the handyman sets her up with a situation where young girl are willing to pay for the more mature woman. What’s the difference between paying for it or getting paid? The film takes this path as we are introduced to Eleanor’s wide variety of women clientele and an array of sexual encounters. Her first one is a timid overweight 23 year old virgin; followed by an uptight aggressive girl, a nervous middle aged woman, a woman with a mastectomy, and so forth. Then the situation gets a little too close to home and her world starts crumbling in around her. She isn’t sure what she is doing anymore, or if she ever knew.
It is unclear what her motives are; she doesn’t need the money and she isn’t a horny, aging woman. She never answers this question even when asked. She may be fulfilling her desire of sexual fantasies and freedom, but I think it is simpler than that. It’s not about the act of sex, but about searching for some excitement in her life; maybe even subconsciously asking for an uproar in her life that will trigger changes not just in herself but the people around her. The banality of daily life and the illusion of choices can be mind-numbing, where change, whether good or bad, is welcome.
For the subject matter, it is not explicit. This is not meant to be gratuitous, but it is sexy in its own right. The sex scenes are very tasteful probably due to the fact that this debut director, Stacie Passon (who I believe to be a member of the LGBT community), does not want this film to be about naked woman and sex. There is a deeper meaning here. But what the concussion has to do with all this I’m not sure. Regardless, it’s a very original film that is a little depressing, witty, sometimes funny, raw, and real. Abby/Eleanor is a likable character, despite what she is doing to herself and her family. In a strange way, I think a lot of women may be able to relate to her. The strong statement and subtle beauty to this film is not to be missed.
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