Posts Tagged ‘Year of the Carnivore’

YEAR OF THE CARNIVORE: 3 STARS

yearofthecarnivore6“Year of the Carnivore” is musician-turned-VJ-turned-radio host-turned actor-turned-director Sook-Yin Lee’s first feature film behind the camera. As befitting someone who has spent her entire career restlessly exploring the various facets of creative life, Lee has made a movie about a search for identity.

Sammy (a beautifully cast Cristin Milioti) is a twenty-one year old grocery store detective. By day she tracks down shop lifters, by night she pines for the affections of Eugene (Mark Rendall) a musician with commitment issues. Following a failed bit of bump and grind with Eugene, Sammy goes on a mission to become sexually experienced—she’s been celibate so long a friend jokes she’s be “revirginated”— sleeping with guys—some willing, some not—to overcome a crippling tickle problem. On her journey to “unleash her inner femme” she meets a mother with post partum depression, a wise but randy older woman and an avocado thief with some helpful words of encouragement.

Call it “Sex and the Canadian City” but instead of Carrie’s couture we have high indie style—carefully mussed hair and shapeless clothes—and bicycles instead of limos. It’s a look at young, naïve people, behaving like young, naïve people, which could have been trite, but Lee, who also wrote the script, infuses the characters with so much heart that despite the movie’s taste for quirky humor and situations—in this world there are shoplifters everywhere and many people have sex in public—Sammy’s search for meaning in her life is heartfelt and compelling.

Milioti leads the strong cast in a performance that radiates vulnerability and humor. She’s physically frail but Milioti allows the character’s inner strength to shine through as it becomes clear to her that she must embrace who she is as well as who she isn’t. Her journey to her comfort zone (and Eugene’s arms) is a trip worth taking.