- Bread and Butter (2014) movie review: Debuting director Liz Manashil’s refreshing indie comedy-drama points out that late-life virginity is detrimental to your emotional health.
Screenwriter-director Liz Manashil’s first insight is that romantic comedies should actually be funny first and romantic second – if ever. Her directorial feature debut Bread and Butter eventually works its way to a kind of awkward romanticism, but it’s always dryly funny; its silliness deftly masked by all manner of understatement and managed execution.
Manashil’s second insight is to populate her movie with the kind of people you almost never see in romantic comedies, which is to say people who look like people you might know, who have friends you might have, and who deal with issues less explored and probably more common than we tend to talk about, including social and personal anxieties like late-life virginity.
“Late” being a relative term, of course.
A virgin with prospects
Amelia (Christine Weatherup) is a young woman of about 30 and she’s a virgin. Having said that, she masturbates so often that technically that label may not be applicable. She also doesn’t drive, which in L.A. is worse than being a virgin – and makes life way harder.
In any case, Amelia would like to get a driver’s license, a boyfriend, a double bed, and do it – not necessarily in that order.
In the most unlikely of circumstances she finds herself with two likely candidates, each more addled by social anxieties than even her. Still, Amelia is suddenly a girl with prospects.
The virgin’s dilemma
On the one hand there’s Leonard (Micah Hauptman of In Stereo), a bit of a romantic who leaves little notes of affirmation in a book Amelia comes by. She tracks him down and they begin a thing.
Leonard is sexy and edgy and exciting, and he’s a real freak-bag of issues and mixed messages that Amelia must learn to navigate.
On the other hand there’s Daniel (Bobby Moynihan of Saturday Night Live fame), who, while being neither romantic nor sexy nor edgy nor exciting, does have less extreme issues than Leonard and is at least seeing a therapist to sort them out.
Of course, his therapist – for whom Amelia works – is actually a self-help guru pretending to be a licensed psychoanalyst, which may or may not be inappropriate and/or illegal. Still, he’s trying.
It’s quite a dilemma for a girl with 30 years of pent-up sexual frustration and zero experience in relationships beyond watching that of her best friend (affably played by Lauren Lapkus) and her parents (Dawn Didawick and Harry Groener), who may be the source of her problems.
Since Amelia can’t drive (and therefore engage in road-rage), masturbation is really her only outlet.
Did I mention that Amelia masturbates a lot in Bread and Butter?
That’s great for a number of reasons, the most important of which being you don’t see a lot of female masturbation in mainstream movies. Usually, it’s some boy who’s having it on with himself in goofy comedies, and we are left to assume that ladies don’t do that sort of thing.
Well they do. And kudos to Ms. Manashil for noting the fact, one that most male directors miss, probably because they spend too much time diddling themselves.
Additional kudos to Jonathon Fessenden and Linus Lau’s music, which is light and earnest but never grating; and to cinematographer Katie Walker, who lets her camera capture the events, rather than create them.
Bread and Butter is a nice debut that refreshes the genre with an interesting point of view, professional execution, and a girly sensibility that most women and brighter boys will appreciate.
Bread and Butter (2014) cast & crew
Direction & Screenplay: Liz Manashil.
From a screen story by Manashil & Sean Wright.
Cast: Christine Weatherup, Bobby Moynihan, Micah Hauptman, Eric Lange, Lauren Lapkus, Sean Wright, Dawn Didawick, Harry Groener.
Cinematography: Katie Walker.
Film Editing: Lindsay Morrison & Bruce Novotny.
Music: Jonathon Fessenden & Linus Lau.
Production Design: Lia Burton.
Producers: Stephen Gibler, Tiffany L. Gray, and Valerie Weiss.
Production Companies: Ph.D. Productions | Thisismyproof.
Distributor: The Orchard.
Running Time: 90 min.
Country: United States.
“Bread and Butter (2014) Movie Review” endnotes
Initially screened at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2014, Bread and Butter had a limited release in the United States in September 2015.
Bread and Butter movie credits via the IMDb.
Christine Weatherup and Bobby Moynihan Bread and Butter movie image: Ph.D. Productions | Thisismyproof.
“Bread and Butter (2014) Movie Review: Late-Life Virginity Woes in Refreshing Indie Dramedy” last updated in September 2022.