2012, 91 min, digital video
NEW YORK THEATRICAL PREMIERE RUN! FILMMAKER IN PERSON!
With Tallie Medel, Sky Hirschkron, Aundrea Fares, Kati Schwartz, and Caroline Luft.
Dan Sallitt’s remarkable, boldly conceived fourth feature is a vivid character study of Jackie, a charismatic, fiercely intelligent, soulful young woman struggling to navigate the choppy waters of adolescence, and nurturing an intense emotional attachment to her older brother that crosses over unmistakably into incestuousness. Frankly acknowledging her forbidden feelings in the company of both her unfazed but elusive brother and her loving but ineffectual mother, Jackie is deeply confused and adrift, even while her sharp wit and keen intellect render her an astute analyst of her own situation.
While its central conceit is admirably provocative, the film’s courting of controversy is belied by Sallitt’s resolutely unspectacular approach – quietly observational, psychologically penetrating, and deeply sensitive, THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT treats its attention-grabbing premise as a prism through which it explores the universally familiar process of negotiating between attachment and emotional independence as one progresses towards adulthood.
A critic and blogger as well as a filmmaker, Sallitt has established a unique and confident voice, both in his writing and in his long-gestating but always impressive feature films (all of which will be screening at Anthology on this calendar). A great admirer of (and profoundly astute commentator on) the work of such masters of behavioral cinema as Eric Rohmer, Maurice Pialat, and Mikio Naruse, Sallitt is perhaps contemporary American cinema’s foremost keeper of their flame, and THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT a deeply moving example of his craft.
“The film is much more than an homage [to Eric Rohmer]; it’s an idiosyncratic take on desire and change that goes into uncharted sexual territories Rohmer never dared to thread, and does so with a measure of elegant, fearless lucidity few directors are capable of mustering.” –Michał Oleszczyk, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
“The mystery and surprise of THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT is how such a cerebral film can be so emotionally affecting. […] This impressive feature provides strong evidence that Dan Sallitt is one of the most underappreciated major American indie writer/directors out there.” –J.J. Murphy
“TOP TEN OF 2012: As close as an American director has ever come to making a Rohmer movie – and not only because the wonderful actor playing the teenage heroine resembles the young Béatrice Romand.” –Amy Taubin, ARTFORUM