The Unspeakable Act (2012, Dan Sallitt)

Another talky, low-budget incest drama. Sallitt’s style is closer to Lena Dunham’s in Tiny Furniture (or a more naturalistic Wes Anderson) than to the indie dramas I’ve watched lately by Azazel Jacobs and Alex Ross Perry. The dialogue is well written and hilarious, and the image is super clean. And unlike the Jacobs and Perry movies, this one is fully engrossing, with a terrific lead performance.

Jackie is in love with her brother Matthew, who is leaving for college soon. She talks with her brother, with her mom (who is somewhat vacant and removed, has a mysterious past), with her therapist – there’s a lot of talking, and no music. She has sex with some hat-wearing dude at school who seems to barely care about her after her brother tells her about his girlfriend Yolanda (whom Jackie grudgingly likes). Jackie calls her desire “the unmentionable act,” never quite saying the title.

D.S. taken out-of-context from a Gorilla interview:

To me, movies are photographs and are therefore about the outside of things, surfaces that we can’t see past. .. I think I’m just trying to increase the sum total of mystery in the world, trying to hit the viewer with some fact that conveys forcibly how little access we have to people’s inner lives.

Amazing: Sallitt might turn this into a trilogy, though he’s not optimistic about finding the funding to make part three, so maybe not. Guess I didn’t realize how much I loved the movie until I read that news and couldn’t make myself stop smiling.

C. Marsh:

But what’s perhaps most striking about the film is that, despite being narrated in reflective voice-over by Jackie and more or less totally confined to her point of view, she remains something of a mystery throughout, seemingly unknowable no matter how close to her the movie encourages us become. This isn’t a failure of the film — as Sallitt describes her himself, Jackie is designed to be “fundamentally an unsolvable puzzle” despite being “wrapped in layers of plausible-looking psychology.”