Life turns comically sour in “Afternoon Delight”

Life turns comically sour in “Afternoon Delight”

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Look for a few light-hearted clouds on the horizon in “Afternoon Delight,” playing next week at the Chilmark Community Center and again at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, as part of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s summer series.

The M.V. Film Center in Vineyard Haven will screen “Unfinished Song” with Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, along with the M.V. Hebrew Center’s Summer Institute film, “Melting Away,” this weekend. “Melting Away” concerns a family dealing with a transgendered member.

Jill Soloway, writer/director of “Afternoon Delight,” won a directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for original storytelling and exceptional ensemble performances. Ms. Soloway has extensive credits as a writer and producer for TV series such as “Six Feet Under.” She directs TV actress Kathryn Hahn as Rachel in “Afternoon Delight,” a 40-something life-crisis comedy.

Despite her nearly perfect life in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood, Rachel finds herself at loose ends. Josh Radnor of TV’s “How I Met Your Mother” plays her husband, Jeff. After a couples trip to a strip club to boost their sex life, Rachel brings home stripper/sex worker McKenna (Juno Temple of “Killer Joe”). In attempting to help out McKenna, Rachel quickly finds herself mired deeper than she expected, to sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying results.

Although “Afternoon Delight” doesn’t really delve much below the surface, viewers familiar with Ms. Hahn, Ms. Temple, and Mr. Radnor will in particular enjoy this romp through the rocky shoals of marriage in mid life. Depending on her other professional commitments, Ms. Temple will lead discussions after the two screenings.

Cinema Circus, the children’s wing of the summer Film Festival, features “Pishto Goes Away” and three other film shorts as part of its ongoing series, providing an emphasis on storytelling.

In its ongoing fundraising efforts, the Festival is again offering two Greenhouse dinners for donors this summer. The first precedes “Afternoon Delight” with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and dinner prepared by Beach Plum Inn chef Chris Fischer at Beetlebung Farm in Chilmark. The second precedes the August 21 screening of “Gideon’s Army.”

The all-star cast of “Unfinished Song” makes it likely that this M.V. Film Center offering will interest many viewers. It was not available for previewing, but British actors Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave represent a long tradition of acting excellence. Viewers may recognize Mr. Stamp as General Zod of “Superman” (1978) and Superman II” (1980). Ms. Redgrave’s role as Briony in “Atonement” is a recent example of her exceptional work.

In “Unfinished Song,” billed as a warmly nostalgic comedy, Mr. Stamp plays the curmudgeonly Arthur, who reluctantly agrees to participate in the choir his late wife Marion, played by Ms. Redgrave, belonged to. Choir director Elizabeth, played by Gemma Arterton, helps Arthur to move beyond his grief and grumpiness, as well as to reconcile with his son James.

The Hebrew Center’s Summer Institute will present “Melting Away,” a film — not available for review — about a couple dealing with a transgendered child, Assaf, after they discover women’s clothes under his mattress. Illness inspires the mother to seek out her former son, who has become Anna, a singer and nurse. After the screening, special guest Emily Aviva Kapor will discuss the transgender community and her own transition from male to female.

“Unfinished Song,” Thursday, July 18; Friday, July 19; Saturday, July 20, 7:30 pm, M.V. Film Center, Vineyard Haven. $12; $7 MVFS members. For information, mvfilmsociety.com.

“Melting Away,” Sunday, July 21, 8 pm, M.V. Hebrew Center Summer Institute at M.V. Film Center. mvsummerinstitute.com. $12 suggested donation.

“Afternoon Delight,” Wednesday, July 24, 8 pm, M.V. Film Festival, Chilmark Community Center. $16; $8 MVFF members. tmvff.org.