Duck Butter – Review [Tribeca 2018]

Duck Butter is playing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Find screening information HERE. Hits theaters April 27th and digital platforms May 1st.

With a story taking place over-24 hours, and spanning no more than three locations, Duck Butter is the ultimate “bottle episode.” A good example of a bottle episode is Breaking Bad’s famous ‘Fly’ installment in season 3, where the main characters spent the hour in a single room, trying to kill a bug. Comedy-wise, the sitcom Community has parodied the concept several times to great success. But films that work with a miniscule scale are much less common, and when they do happen, the execution is hit-or-miss.

Duck Butter kicks off when Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) meet at a club. They hit it off instantly, connecting over their disdain for the dishonesty they have experienced in their respective romantic relationships. High on their fast chemistry, the two women concoct a romantic experiment: They plan to spend the next 24 hours together, unseparated, and have sex each hour. Above all, they commit to perfect honesty with each other, a theoretical remedy to the deceit they believe to be an element of modern relationships. Of course, their “relationship in a vacuum” doesn’t go as planned, and soon the weight of their commitment begins to close in, threatening the ideals of the daylong experiment and their chances for a romantic future tomorrow and beyond. It’s all set up in excitingly-unique fashion.

This movie is extremely character driven, and the pair of protagonists each get a remarkably fleshed out backstory despite the amount of time we have to spend with them. Both actresses are fantastic, particularly Costa, who in my opinion overshadows Alia Shawket. Her expressions are incredible descriptive of the emotions Sergio feels without saying a word. That said, I would love to see Shawket in more roles. Between this and the phenomenal series Search Party, she deserves more than indie films every once in a while. She’s clearly full of talent, seeing as she wrote Duck Butter herself.

Duck Butter is a movie bookended by two above-average acts yet burdened by a dull and sluggish middle stretch. There are a couple of interesting scenes scattered throughout the runtime, but overall a large chunk of the story is very boring. I chuckled a bit here and there, but also wanted to fall asleep a lot.

Something to note: Mark and Jay Duplass executive produced Duck Butter and play themselves in a minor role. It adds absolutely nothing to the movie, and is actually kind of bizarre the more you think about it, but if you are a fan of their acting or directing work I recommend checking out Duck Butter.

I give Duck Butter a C+.

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