Unlovable is a new comedy co-written and starring Charlene deGuzman. It debuted at the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival, where it received Special Jury Recognition.
In the film, deGuzman stars as a sex-and-love addict that has hit rock bottom and is struggling to take control of her life. She begins to learn real intimacy when she forms a band with the reclusive man in whose guest house she is staying.
The first scene of the movie is somewhat annoying and over-the-top. It feels too bright and ditsy for a film with such serious subject matter. Luckily, this is only a facade, as the story soon turns darker, even though it (rightfully) maintains its optimistic attitude. It is this blend of realism and optimism that makes the movie so enjoyable.
Additionally, despite the film’s subject matter, it is surprisingly tasteful. Yes, there are scenes of sexuality, but these are not graphic or overly raunchy. The movie manages to capture the crippling effects of addiction without being exploitative or gratuitous. To do this, the film establishes its characters to be complex and rounded, making their emotional arcs the center of the story.
The protagonist is highly likable. The film uses pity as a tool to make the audience like her even more. When used improperly, pity can make a character feel distant or diminish the impact of his or her story. However, the movie counterbalances the pity that the audience should feel for the protagonist with a well-written redemption arc. This makes the character even more intensely sympathetic.
The supporting characters in the film are likable as well. Jim has a very strong arc of his own, changing from an outsider to one of the most interesting parts of the story. The friendship that is developed between him and the protagonist is both enjoyable and believable. Maddie is a likable mentor character, although her part in the movie is small.
The execution of the film was also quite good. The cinematography and editing are interesting, with some gritty and real shots that were emotionally impactful and some fantastically surreal shots that transport the audience into the mind of the character. The soundtrack is great too. The original songs were catchy and cute.
Furthermore, the actors also do a nice job of bringing their characters to life. In the lead role, deGuzman is both funny and endearing. Given that she co-wrote the movie, there is likely some part of the character that is true-to-life (or at least something she has seen in real life), and that shows. John Hawkes gives a strong turn in his supporting role. He is talented at being the off-putting, but unexpectedly charming character.
Overall, Unlovable is an impressive film. Although it gets off to a bumpy start, it quickly smooths out, turning into an enjoyable, brisk comedy.
Unlovable opens in theaters November 1 and is available on VOD beginning November 2.