Twenty-one year old Sammy Smalls has self-esteem issues. She hides behind her frumpy clothes and the slight limp she sustained from a childhood illness. She works in a dead end job as an undercover shoplifter detector at a Big Apple Food Town, her boss Dirk who has his own brand of vigilante justice for the shoplifters. And she considers her parents, although loving in their own unique way, not good role models for her. She doesn't like people touching her in an emotional manner, the ticklish feeling she gets from such being yet another thing behind which she hides. As a result, she is sexually inexperienced. However, she does have a crush on Eugene Zaslavsky, a busker musician who performs outside her supermarket. Each considers the other a friend, but their attempt to take the friendship into a sexual realm results in utter disaster. Although they vow to remain friends, Eugene won't sleep with her again due to her sexual inexperience. So Sammy goes on an expedition for advice and ... Written by
I attended the World Premiere of "Year of the Carnivore" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. This deliciously decadent work can be described as "Juno" meets "Shortbus," although it's certainly not as explicit. Director Sook-Yin Lee was one of the stars of that latter film and is somewhat of an icon in her native Canada. The film rests on the capable shoulders of lead actress Cristin Milioti, a relative unknown, and her co-star Mark Rendall, a terrific budding character actor who has been in several of my favorite festival films of the past few years.
What do we really know about sex, when do we learn it, and how do we learn it? That sums up "Year of the Carnivore" and, as Ms. Lee explained eloquently in the Q&A, are questions she still asks herself. It's a quirky love story which is surely, more than anything, a showcase for the broad talents of Sook-Yin Lee, who wrote the script, directed, and composed much of the soundtrack's music.
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