Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Movie Review: "Unlovable" (2018)

Director: Suzi Yoonessi
Year: 2018
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

A sex and relationship addict seeks help and finds real friendship with a reclusive man who has issues of his own.

Unlovable 2018 movie still Charlene deGuzman Melissa Leo
"Sometimes I sleep with a phone book on top of me because it feels like love." (Image Source)
Everybody wants to have love and (almost) everybody loves sex, but rarely have we seen a film talk about what happens when someone is actually obsessed with those two things. "Unlovable" is directed by Suzi Yoonessi, who has directed little-known films like "Dear Lemon Lima" and the Scooby-Doo spinoff "Daphne and Velma." The story is written by Sarah Adina Smith, Mark Duplass, and Charlene deGuzman, who also stars in the film as Joy. Joy is a sex and relationship addict. Despite Joy's desire for real intimacy, she can never find it because she falls in love with whatever guy shows her the slightest bit of attention. She is also unfaithful to anyone she is with because she never truly loves that person. Joy's most recent boyfriend, Ben (Paul James), has just dumped her and has kicked her out of their apartment because she cheated on him. This sends her into a deep depression that causes her to finally seek help for her addiction to love and sex. While attending recovery meetings, Joy meets Maddie (Melissa Leo), who becomes her sponsor and lets her stay in the guest house behind her grandmother's residence. There, Joy meets Maddie's brother Jim (John Hawkes), who is taking care of their grandma. Jim has many problems of his own but may be the first person who is able to connect with Joy and have a relationship that isn't based purely on physicality, attraction, and sex.
Unlovable 2018 movie still Charlene deGuzman
"Everything's a fucking trigger." (Image Source)
We really didn't know much about "Unlovable" going into it. We didn't even know that it was produced by (and written by one of) the Duplass brothers, who have brought consistent greatness to indie cinema over the last few years. We are so glad to say we very much enjoyed watching this terrific and off-beat film. Charlene deGuzman is exceedingly funny as Joy and does a tremendous job in the lead role of a sex and relationship addict. We see the trauma, heartbreak, and struggles Joy goes through to attempt to overcome her vice, which has cost her a myriad of relationships and years of pain. deGuzman was a terrific casting choice for this part since Joy must be confident and vulnerable, bubbly and depressed at different times, each of which she handles with ease. deGuzman and John Hawkes, who gives an excellent performance in his own right, manage to have fabulous chemistry together as two troubled individuals who understand each other and refrain from judging one another. Jim and Joy also bond through their shared love of music, and they often have conversations with one another to the beats of their instruments. The songs, written in large part by Hawkes himself, are bizarre, unique, and strangely accurate in a twisted way as they tell of Jim's day-to-day frustrations about the world around him. Another good performance comes from Melissa Leo who, despite having a smaller role, really owns her part for the short time she's on screen.

The dialogue and humor can be offbeat and a little dark at times, which won't always work for everyone, but is most assuredly our cup of tea. We laughed a lot while watching this earnest, quirky film. Whereas some directors might fail outright trying to handle the many tonal shifts this film has as both a dark comedy and a full-on drama, we think Suzi Yoonessi handles these changes quite gracefully, and they never feel jarring or out of place. They simply feel like part of Joy's healing process and her long road to recovery.
Unlovable 2018 movie still Charlene deGuzman John Hawkes
"I just feel so crazy. I don't know how to be anything other than crazy." (Image Source)
You may not have heard of "Unlovable," but we absolutely think it is worth watching. This is one of the most honest, unique, beautiful, funny films we have seen in 2018. Director Suzi Yoonessi has a keen eye for directing, and we can't wait to see what she does next!

**We were allowed to screen this movie as part of our coverage for both the San Diego Asian Film Festival and the Denver Film Festival. To get tickets to see this film in San Diego, please visit the SD Asian Film Festival website!**

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.9/10
RT Rating: ~86%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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