Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer. While there, she falls for a girl in the ... See full summary »
Paul Brian Fagen
The intelligent Annabelle starts in an elite Catholic girls' boarding high school after being expelled from the previous 2 schools. She's open about being lesbian. She's attracted to her teacher, Simone.
Martina was a famous singer in Argentina during the late 90s, who's become completely frigid and disenchanted with love. The arrival of a so-called sister, alongside her attractive boyfriend, compel Martina to go to Chile with one objective in mind: getting back her libido.
Duck Butter intrigued me because it delved into LGBT romance and starred an actress I greatly admire, Laia Costa (I've watched her in both English and Spanish movies and she's always great). The concept is simple: Naima (played by Alia Shawkat, an actress I was unfamiliar with before this role) and Sergio (Costa) decide on a whim to spend 24 hours straight with each other soon after they meet and become intimate based on initial attraction. Sex, intimate conversations, and shenanigans ensue.
My biggest problem with Duck Butter is that it features two of the most immature, emotionally-stunted characters I've ever seen in a movie like this. The movie doesn't fully explore why these two women are so outlandishly emotionally stupid save for some scant background details about poor parental relationships, nor does it offer any solution by way of character growth or learning from past mistakes, save for one consequence Naima suffers in her career for acting unprofessional (the email scene and its conclusion). Naima is immediately unlikable; she is introduced first, immediately acts pretentious at her job, then preaches about politics to some clearly unimpressed ladies at a gay bar a scene or two later. While her character does become a little more tolerable as the movie progresses, by contrast Sergio starts out charming and energetic and devolves into an even bigger mess by the movie's conclusion. At their worst, Naima is groan-worthy and Sergio teeters on the edge of psychotic; at their best, these characters are groaning their way through some entry-level sex scenes in which we feel nothing, for the mutual attraction between them is never explained, felt, or fully understood.
That's not to say these actresses did a bad job; both Costa and Shawkat do the best with the material they're given, but their characters are simply so unlikable and dull that the performances aren't particularly memorable. This is coming from someone who has seen Costa's other angst-filled, young love drama Newness, which is a movie whose characters are at times immature, but at least that film had something to say. Duck Butter dwells in the infantilism of its leads without coming to any conclusions or even appropriately exploring the nuances of such disturbed characters to make them interesting enough for the screen.
As a last note, much has been said about the movie's odd obsession with scatological references and attempts at humor. I'm someone who can appreciate good juvenile humor, but the references here just seemed odd and out of place. Overall, the only good thing I took out of Duck Butter is that while I still like Laia Costa, I'll also keep on the lookout for Alia Shawkat. She's uniquely beautiful and did her best with the material here, and I hope to see her in new (and better) films.
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