In former film critic Dan Sallitt’s fourth feature, “The Unspeakable Act,” close teenage siblings Jackie (Tallie Medel) and Matthew (Sky Hirschkron) live with their supportive but subdued mother and older sister–an older brother is studying in Paris–in a large, remarkably tchotchke-free house on a tranquil Brooklyn street.
Jackie brashly announces (in voiceover) early in the proceedings that she’s “in love with her brother.” It’s to bring the audience up to speed–Matthew is aware of her affection and he deals with it (until the end of the film) with bemusement and indulgence rather than outrage.
Soft, saucer-eyed Jackie slips into sadness when Matthew leaves for Princeton. Clinging to her unmentionable (though she’s frequently mentioned it) taboo, she fixates on her attraction to her brother as a way to forestall adulthood and its risky relationships.
Sessions sitting with her Converse sneakers on an astute therapist’s leather couch lead to fumbling in a car with a boy she meets at a party (subject line of her email to Matthew: “Defloration”) and Jackie begins to give up her impossible expectations of her brother–and herself.
But she’s not quite ready to abandon her teenage angst. Like Matthew, fond of Jackie, the audience indulges her when she says in voiceover of her exceptionalism, “I’m not even 18 yet and I’m resigned to never being happy, pretending from morning to night that I want the same things as everyone else,” and is encouraged that she allows that her therapist’s view that her life will continue to change might be correct.
“The Unspeakable Act” will be shown on Tuesday, March 12 at 8:00 pm at the Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center, part of Film Society’s ongoing Indie Night series.
I had photographed other famous people when I was assigned to shoot Pam Grier for an interview in the Arts & Lesiure section of The New York Times (which ran to coincide with the release of Quentin Tarrantino’s “Jackie Brown”). But I’d never had an icon in my studio before. And the irony of me telling beautiful, kickass Foxy Brown what to do (even if it was only “turn to the left,” “fling your jacket over your shoulder”) made the shoot extra fun, funny, as wonderful Pam Grier played along.
The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present “Foxy, The Complete Pam Grier,” on March 15-17. Grier will attend several screenings and will sign her new book “Foxy My Life in Three Acts” on Saturday, March 16.