SXSW Review: Unlovable
Unlike a substance addiction, recovering from a sex & intimacy addiction requires that you return to your object of habit. What a conundrum. How do you figure? Unlovable suggests the practice of deeper platonic bonds. Based on the script and real-life experiences of its Writer/Star Charlene De Guzman, Unlovable, opts to tell its story with pastel tones and a gossamer touch. Sometimes that sweet twists to sour, but the poignancy of its true-life source do accumulate to an overall veracity..
John Hawkes plays the man Joy (Charlene De Guzman) will learn to love in a chaste way. He elevates the film, not solely through performance, but by the original songs he wrote and performed alongside Charlene. Together they form a musical duo to beat their addictions up with song and drumsticks. It seems more lucrative than the guidance of a sponsor played by Melissa Leo.
Leo and Hawkes offer a grounded antithesis to Charlene’s hyper-manic portrayal and the film’s deliberate daint. Sometimes those jarring opposites buttheads, and it can feel “off” when Hawkes delivers a saccharine punchline that might’ve worked if the performance cambered to the heightened brows of the world surrounding. But Hawkes plows through the film’s tonalities, escalates it, and even keeps the thing tenuously stitched together.
This film has something sincere to explore, something untold by this form and undone in this way. It’s the sunny flipside to McQueen’s self-serious “Shame” in which characters brood under torrential rain. It benefits from being the “first” of few to approach its theme. But it won’t be the last -- or the best.