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Movie review: ‘Afternoon Delight’

Posted 5:22pm on Thursday, Sep. 05, 2013

R (strong, sometimes graphic sexual content; strong language; drug use); 99 min.

Kathryn Hahn is best known for supporting roles on TV shows like Crossing Jordan, Girls and Parks and Recreation. But in Afternoon Delight, she takes center screen and gives a bravura performance as a woman looking for fulfillment in all aspects of life.

Afternoon Delight is a drama with comic elements and represents a new genre for women: the empowerment movie, in which a seemingly happy person discovers who she is intellectually and sexually. This is what Hahn’s character, Rachel, is seeking — even though she doesn’t realize it.

Rachel is married to Jeff, a nice guy played by Josh Radnor, with a cute son and wonderful home. Yet she tells her therapist — played by Jane Lynch in that no-nonsense way only Jane Lynch can portray — that she hasn’t had sex in at least six months. Her friend Stephanie (Jessica St. Clair) says she and her husband go to strip joints to get aroused, and invites Rachel and Jeff to join them

Rachel meets 19-year-old McKenna (Juno Temple), who gives her a lap dance that is a life-changer. Rachel, now obsessed, accidentally on purpose runs into the tantalizing McKenna on the street and invites her to live with the family.

Rachel thinks she can help McKenna, but in reality the reverse is happening, as Rachel learns about McKenna’s life as a stripper, lap dancer, sex worker and other less acceptable roles. All of this is done tastefully.

Director Jill Soloway gets the most out of her actors, fleshing out their characters and letting us know what makes them tick. It’s refreshing to hear dialogue that’s natural and modern and doesn’t try to pontificate. And the rewards are many.

Exclusive: AMC NorthPark, Dallas

— Leba Hertz,

San Francisco Chronicle

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