The Dish & the Spoon

In premise, plotting, and style, Alison Bagnall's sophomore feature would seem like just another mumble-stumble down micro-indie lane. Averting makeup and employment, boho goddess Greta Gerwig tentatively inhabits a beach house off-season, while the camera, as well as the action it records, has that telltale unsteadiness. But things turn less predictable when a pretty wee English teen (Olly Alexander) shows up and quietly falls for Gerwig's Rose, pushing the film's ambiguities away from affect and into inherently sketchy truths. Distraught over her unfaithful husband, Rose is first seen driving to the Delaware coast in her pajamas. Boozily scooping up a shivering hipster boy on the beach, she decamps to her parents' vacation house and plots revenge on her husband's yoga-instructor paramour. Dressing boorish Gerwig in baggy outerwear and dainty Alexander in Wes Anderson–worthy undersized sweaters and high-waters, Bagnall marvelously exploits both Gerwig and Alexander's gender dexterity. A scene of actual drag literalizes things but for a purpose, as it reveals the cruelty in Rose's slumming role-play and the unrequited desire behind the little boy's mascara. The film doesn't really advance beyond such gender exploration, but for once, an American indie's muted modesty at least makes emotional sense, suiting a bittersweet romance that, by nature, has neither a name nor a future.

 
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