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Year of the Carnivore

Sook-Yin Lee

Year of the Carnivore
Some movies are actually more fun to watch when surrounded by a roomful of stuffy critics, as very little can match the amusement of hearing quiet collective judgment and superiority while an on-screen character dresses up in a vintage gown and dry-humps the corner of a desk after having a threesome with nascent parents, wherein the wife lactates and grunts. What could be more appropriate, however, for Sook-Yin Lee, the former mooning Much Music VJ, ex-lead singer of Bob's Your Uncle and star of Shortbus, than to offend the tender sensibilities of the elitist?

This isn't all the movie is about though, and in truth, any offence is incidental, as Year of the Carnivore is about a young woman named Sammy Smalls (Cristin Milioti) trying to discover herself and her sexuality in an idiosyncratic world. Inciting this incendiary predilection is an attraction to Eugene (Mark Rendall), a musician she meets at her job at a grocery store as an undercover shoplifting detective.

An offbeat humour that directs jabs at hipster posturing and yuppie normalization keeps identification with those on the outside looking in quizzically, which is why Sammy's less-than-ideal-relationship with Eugene seems more incidental than vital. It's our protagonist's pragmatic but socially inappropriate approach to personal plight that sheds light on the insanity of mass social expectations. Resultantly, certain folks will absolutely love this movie, while most just won't get it.

Those that do get it will find much to laugh about, regardless of the occasional sloppy set-up and awkward transition. Sook-Yin Lee has crafted a film of undeniable uniqueness that, aptly enough, seems exactly like the sort of thing she would make, which may be used as an insult by some and a high compliment by others.

This reviewer falls into the latter category and will be adding this title to his list of repeat watches. (E1)
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