'Female Pervert': Slamdance Review
Jiyoung Lee's second feature attempts to humorously satirize the sexual objectification of men but comes up short in almost every respect
Almost as painfully awkward as the titular main character, Female Pervert misfires on so many levels it's remarkable that nobody put this project on hold for a thorough reevaluation prior to production. Discouragingly repetitive and ploddingly paced even for a one-hour feature, this low-budget loser may survive temporarily on film festival generosity before seeking more appropriate partners online.
Despite a mildly provocative title and a rather wacky opening scene featuring video game designer and conflicted wallflower Phoebe (Jennifer Kim) trying to get her date to play her Theremin with a sex toy, Kim's character struggles more with issues of disempowerment than sexual transgression throughout the film. At work, Phoebe's boss is too poorly focused to offer her much professional guidance, but she's more interested in scoping out guys at the office than doing much actual work anyway. Since that strategy isn't working for the moment, she flirts with neighbor Ryan (Brian Cafferty), a part-time actor, but after several nights of hanging out, she gets the brush-off after showing inordinate interest in his body hair.
Behaving as though she's either socially inept or deliberately abrasive, it's no surprise when things don't go much better for Phoebe with her new book club buddy Allen (Joshua Mikel), who flees after she attempts to photograph him relieving himself in her bathroom. Her therapist (Taylor Proctor) is unfazed by her client's romantic misadventures, but becomes consistently frustrated by her contrariness, although there's scant discussion of Phoebe's peculiar intimacy preferences.
Her obsession with frequently viewing her ex-boyfriend's ironically titled website "Does This Shirt Look Good on Me?", which features scantily clad men in tight undershorts, isn't doing much to relieve her sexual frustration, however, resulting in another disastrous encounter with new co-worker Henry (Jesse Price) after she suggests removing hair from a particularly delicate part of his anatomy. Whether or not she'll ever find a man who will let her approach within three paces without getting rejected, Phoebe's predilections don't appear to be attributable to any distinct sexual perversions.
With Fifty Shades of Grey currently setting the bar in popular culture for digressive sexual preferences, a film about a titular deviant that lacks any sex scenes or even a single make-out session seems so overwhelmingly tame that it minimizes both character conflict and audience involvement. Phoebe may be awkward and odd, but the "pervert" label is a poor fit that the film never manages to justify.
The predominance of feckless hipster guys as targets of Phoebe's interest and ultimate scorn certainly holds the potential for amusing situations, but Kim's often humorless demeanor repeatedly deflates the film's tentatively proffered comedic moments, which writer-director Lee can't seem to seize with any real conviction anyway. Performances among the remainder of the cast seem forced at best and sometimes flat-out clueless, while Lee's expertise behind the camera only serves to highlight the inadequacy of the scripting over the film's insubstantial one-hour runtime.
Production company: East Main Video
Cast: Jennifer Kim, Joshua Mikel, Jiyoung Lee, Skizz Cyzyk, Brian Cafferty, Jesse Price, Kate McManus, Taylor Proctor
Director-Writer: Jiyoung Lee
Producer: Melodie Sisk
Director of photography: Alexander Sablow
Editor: Dave Bonawits
Sales: BGP Film
No rating, 62 minutes