It’s not like Sarah Jo hasn’t been exposed to the concept of erotica in her little part of Los Angeles. Her single mother Marilyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has been around the block a few times, often telling her daughters counseling stories about men. With her sensual Instagram videos, her beautiful and influencer-in-the-making sister Treina (Taylor Paige) also seems well versed in that department. No longer struggling with her lack of experience (she’s still a virgin), Sarah Jo suddenly comes one day to her employer Josh (a fantastic Jon Bernthal, playfully sleazy), a daring act no one sees coming; neither him nor us. Yes, Sarah Jo’s shocking audacity catches the seemingly kind and decent Josh off guard when his heavily pregnant wife Heather (Dunham) has to go to work and his babysitter Sarah Jo has to do nothing but help with their disabled son and some minor chores. around the house. He initially declines her confident invitation for sex. But the mutual attraction gets the better of them soon enough (minutes in fact) and the two fall into an affair.
Dunham uncovers a refreshing amount of humor, honesty and sincerity through Sarah Jo’s misadventures with Josh between the sheets, simultaneously challenging her complex (though not entirely unjustified) reputation as a tone-deaf and privileged one-trick pony with her second-and-only feature . (Yes, it’s hard to believe the “Girls” creator has only made two movies so far.) It helps, of course, that her heroine here organically earns that sincerity, being an endlessly curious but initially ignorant woman – so ignorant, in fact, that she asks questions like, “Go down on me? Go down … where?” and literally interprets the act of blowjob as blowing out birthday candles after making a wish.Dunham’s side also features a cinematographer Ashley Connor‘s sensitive work through a lens that sensitively blends eroticism and elegance, never forgetting that this is Sarah Jo’s journey; those are her terms.
It’s almost like a new movie starts when the inevitable heartbreak arrives for Sarah Jo (spoiler: Josh isn’t who he seems on the surface). With that begins a renewed excursion into X-rated corners of the web and trysts with strangers she meets online. Convinced that her lack of experience cost her her relationship with Josh, Sarah Jo vows never to be a rookie in the bedroom again, and makes an alphabetical list of all sexual experiences—C for Creampie, E for Eiffel Tower, and so on— she wants to tackle, one by one. In the process, she discovers that her favorite porn star is Vance Leroy (a wonderful and very funny Scott Speedman). Tellingly, Vance’s signature trait is gentlemanly masculinity, a quality that Sarah Jo finds deeply erotic in a world characterized by anger, aggression and male condescension.