Lena Dunham: Critics tear into Girls star’s ‘off-putting’ new film Sharp Stick

The Independent
The Independent

Lena Dunham ’s new film Sharp Stick has made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival – but the reaction has been somewhat less than impressed.

The Girls star’s latest offering focuses on a 26-year-old babysitter (Kristine Froseth) who undergoes a sexual awakening after losing her virginity to her employer.

Alongside Froseth, the independent drama also stars Taylour Paige, Jennifer Jason Leigh , Jon Bernthal and Dunham herself, who also directed and wrote the script.

Early reviews for the film have been damning, however, and the effort currently holds a score of just 37 per cent on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes (at time of writing).

In a two-star review for The Guardian , Adrian Horton wrote: “This awkward, misjudged, occasionally sexy film has seeds of a radical, fresh story and flashes of directorial brilliance but is hobbled throughout by the confounding decision to write her 26-year-old main character as either insensitively neuro-divergent or more sheltered child than adult.”

The Times ’ Kevin Maher wrote in a one-star review that Dunham had “abandoned all the wit and vibrancy that made her show such compulsive viewing and has opted instead for ‘Carry On Los Angeles’.”

The New York Post was also among the film’s detractors, writing: “The Girls creator’s second movie after Tiny Furniture 12 years ago is hollow, amateurish provocation with phony characters and an off-putting plot.”

Others, however, were more mixed in their verdicts, with Vulture ’s Alison Willmore writing : “ Sharp Stick lurches from element to element [...], which keeps it unpredictable, but also leaves it feeling like it’s just finding its footing when it ends.

“It has the air of a television-show fragment, and not just because its initial entanglement feels like the stuff of a pilot, something that has to be gotten out of the way to reach the actual premise.”

The Hollywood Reporter argued: “ Sharp Stick , is as strange and provocative as its title and pedigree suggest. Written and directed by Dunham in the midst of the pandemic with a mainly female crew, Sharp Stick is an audaciously sexual film, marvelling at the pursuit of feminine pleasure.

“For better or worse, this is Dunham at her most liberated in years with a freewheeling tone that shakes off years of silence and scrutiny.”

No release date for the film has yet been announced.

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