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Back to the not-so basics

Eccentric “Bread and Butter” flips the romcom script.

By Zaida Diaz, Staff Writer

In the real world, courtship can be tricky and sometimes even awkward. First-time writer-director Liz Manashil explores these idiosyncrasies in “Bread and Butter.”

Being such a low-budget, indie affair has its advantages, as it does not have to follow the standard romantic comedy tropes.

It opens in a dark room, where the viewer can hear a woman panting intensely, a sure sign a couple is “doing the dirty.” Then an interrupting phone call reveals that Amelia (Christine Weatherup), the protagonist, is alone under the sheets. Of course it’s her parents calling.

This scene is very much reminiscent of adolescence; it is honest, awkward and hilarious. Manashil takes something “taboo” and exposes it as a common reality, thus making it relatable.

The film focuses on the love life, or rather lack thereof, of Amelia Karinsky, a 30-year-old virgin who has yet to find her first boyfriend.

Amelia is encouraged by her inquisitive boss, Dr.Wellburn (Eric Lange), a life coach, to date his introverted and anxious patient Daniel Lodgen as wonderfully personified by Bobby Moynihan.

At the same time, Amelia becomes infatuated with a stranger who left annotations on the margins of a book she purchased at a used bookstore. She eventually works up the courage to track down Leonard Marsh (Micah Hauptman) the original owner of the book, the same book (it should be noted) that she pleasured herself to in the opening scene.

One day while Amelia is on a date with Daniel, Leonard unexpectedly shows up on her doorstep. Amelia explains that she and Daniel were just leaving to get drinks, but surprisingly Leonard invites himself and joins them. It’s absurd, but also uncomfortable on all levels; it exemplifies the uneasiness in dating multiple people and the inevitable anxiety that arises in choosing between two lovers.

On one hand, there is Daniel, an anxious, short, and chubby type who, although wants to exercise control over every aspect of his life, has a likable quality to him which makes him the one to root for.

On the other hand, there is Leonard, the “ideal” man from her book who has such a way with words. Leonard is tall, scrawny and jobless, unpredictable. And he struggles with depression. Aside from this, Amelia still considers him a top contender for her heart. Her attraction for this man speaks volumes about Amelia’s own broken and lost spirit.

Thus the film opens the conversation up to whether being in a relationship is the solution for fixing one’s brokeness, or if it best to explore other options.

In addition to this, the film deviates from other romcoms in that it consists of socially awkward characters who totally stray from the perfect-looking and suave archetypes. You will not find the quintessential “hot” guy as the love interest of the quirky girl.

“Bread and Butter” charms as it effectively demonstrates the flaws and instability in romance, assuring viewers that they are not alone in their weirdness or intricate love affairs.

*****

3.5 stars (out of 5)

Unrated. Some adult themes and language.

For more information, including where to catch the film during its festival run, visit Bread and Butter at breadandbuttermovie.com.

Click here for a feature on filmmaker Liz Manashil.

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