(Note: Soloway’s conversation with Kurt Andersen includes references to sex work, rape, and other adult subjects. It is not appropriate for young listeners.)
There are sitcoms, there are dramas, and then there are the great shows that careen back and forth, making you laugh and cry and think and cringe — shows like Six Feet Under and The United States of Tara. Both were written in part by Jill Soloway, a successful TV writer whose first feature film, Afternoon Delight, has just been released.
The film takes the idea of a “women’s picture” to a new level of honesty. Soloway wanted to see “what it would feel like to have a movie that’s about what it feels like to be a woman,” she tells Kurt Andersen. It may raise hackles: at one point, characters joke about the rape scene in The Accused. “You know, in most movies, even movies that are about women, there’s usually a guy somewhere. If he’s not the director he might be the producer, he might be the writer, who’s just putting a little bit in there about how he likes women to be and act and behave.”
Afternoon Delight tells the story of a bourgeois Los Angeles couple who visit a strip club to spice up their marriage. During her private lap dance, the wife feels something for the dancer she can’t explain, and a few days later she invites the other woman — a prostitute as well as a stripper — home to move in with her family. The scenario comes out of an experience Soloway herself had visiting a club. “I think I was struck by the intimacy and the connection, the emotional connection that happens during a private dance. You close that curtain and it’s not really about getting turned on — it’s about feeling like for those three minutes it’s only the two of you in the world.”
It’s a connection between women that Soloway says she felt uniquely suited to tell. “I just thought how funny it would be if a mom came in there and she got really confused about what that love feeling was. Is this girl my daughter? Is she my sister? Am I her?”
Kurt notes that in spite of its many racy aspects, the film celebrates the strength of the monogamous marriage. “I was a little embarrassed when I watched the whole movie,” Soloway admits. “This is a commercial for Family First.”
CORRECTION: In the interview, Kurt misspoke when identifying the lead actress in Afternoon Delight. She is Kathryn Hahn, not Kathryn Hannah.
Afternoon DelightArtist: Starland Vocal BandAlbum: Starsky & Hutch SoundtrackLabel: Tvt