Afternoon Delight   

by writer/director Jill Soloway

How weird is it that it feels revolutionary to make a film about a regular, screwed up, mess of a human being who happens to be a woman?

I just got off the phone with a reporter from The New York Observer who’s writing a story about our leading lady Kathryn Hahn, and we talked about Meryl Streep, Jill Clayburgh, Ellen Burstyn, Dianes both Keaton and Weist. We talked about the Goodbars and the Unmarried Women and the Women on the Verge—these powerful anti-heroines of the films of my childhood. Actors who grabbed the screen and tackled us with their real truths, their human faces, and their astonishing capacity to be both real and funny and dirty and melancholy, all at once, brought these stories to life.

I didn’t set out to salute the legacy of these performances—I set out to prove to myself that I knew better than anyone else how to make the words I put on the page as a writer make sense. Working as a TV writer had gotten me close—I'd seen my notions fulfilled with the flesh of actors and the glow of lights. But I was searching for something more concrete that I could see and touch—my own comedic and dramatic voice—an original vision that said, “This is how I see the world.”

I also set out to make a comedy that would allow women—and fans of women—to relax into their theater chairs with the knowledge that for this one ride, they wouldn’t have to do the translating that we have to do with so many films. So often we have to both sit in a male protagonist’s seat and join him on his ride—even as he seduces an idealized woman or trashes an unfit one. Other times we find ourselves wiggling in and out of discomfort as we encounter a female protagonist either written or directed by a man. We struggle with a nagging feeling that something is off—a double dialogue runs in our head. Some voice says, ‘a real woman would never do this’ or ‘what does the male writer or director get out of seeing women through this lens?’

I can feel that translating machinery dropping onto the theater aisles as women settle into the opening credits—this is their film. This is our film.

In the space between now and when you move through that sloshing, soapy cleansing from the real world into the secret space of this film, I’ll add one more thought: I love thinking about women’s secrets. What happens in that time of day after you drop your kids but before pick-up? You’re not a mom anymore, you’re just a person, and if you want to, you can be an anonymous person.  That electricity that crackles between two people in a secret space is at the chewy center of Rachel and McKenna’s relationship. That was also the vibe on the set as we showed up early, blacked out windows, and time travelled into the most intense moments we could conjure.  Confessing to her therapist that she longs for a mysterious afternoon tryst with her husband, Rachel dangles this same notion. My wish would be that this movie can be a secret space for those who see it—women stealing an afternoon with their partners, mom stealing a night out with the girls—or anyone who wants to sink into the delicious joy of the cinema of a messy, moving, silly human life.

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