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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Duck Butter **

Starring: Alia Shawcat, Laia Costa Director: Miguel Arteta

Country: USA Imagine you could fast-forward the honeymoon period of a new relationship to see if it could work. Would you be attached to the joy of those initial stages, or do you think cutting to the chase would be a lot more practical? This is the question raised in Duck Butter, the new American lesbian drama to appear on Netflix. Naima (Shawcat) is an actress whose inability to let herself go is standing in the way of her success. Sergio (Costa) is a Spanish singer-songwriter who believes in spontaneity and truth before all else. When the two meet on a night out and go home together, Sergio proposes a radical suggestion. What if they spend the entire next 24 hours together intimately, following wherever the other goes, having hourly sex until they decide whether they want to continue seeing each other. Sceptical, Naima agrees. The majority of the film is a duologue between these two characters. Their emotions swing like a pendulum, magnified by the claustrophobic situation they have inflicted on themselves. Their personalities clash enormously, which inevitably leads to much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, whilst gazing at the other’s naval, desperately trying to figure each other out. The ticking clock and the laden expectation serve only to heighten this bubbling pot of angst, which can only over-boil. The characters couldn’t be more different, which of course cocks the gun for their resultant clashes, but you can’t help but wonder how either of them thinks this could ever work out. Naima is uptight; inexorably so. She has a bleak view of the world and is critical of everything from over-population to global warming. Sergio is carefree in the extreme. She refuses to conform, craves originality and has quite the penchant for grand gestures (defecating in a frying pan, for example). It’s doomed from the start, surely? This indie flick has pretensions of Weekend or Theo & Hugo, but doesn’t capture the same kind of spark, with its characters feeling like they could turn to camera any moment and say “I’m mad, me! This is crazy behaviour!” Room In Rome managed to adeptly capture the tangible feeling of claustrophobic romantic intensity that Duck Butter is clearly aiming for, but instead the latter only succeeds in making the characters feel uncomfortably trapped in a pact of their own making. And while there is a lot of sex on show, it feels almost functional and quickly loses its sensuality. It’s easy to see how a long-term single person might want to try something radical or something new, but just how radical is being intimate with someone for 24 hours? Really, its radicalness comes from just who they decide to do this with. And, honestly, if I had to spend 24 hours with either Naima or Sergio, I would be seriously thinking about putting their heads through a wall. After 24 minutes. And if nothing else, this film does nothing if not significantly propagate the stereotype that lesbians move in together within five minutes. I mean, 24 hours is dragging their feet, surely?? OUT NOW ON NETFLIX.

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