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'Afternoon Delight' review: Suburban ennui

Juno Temple, left, and Kathryn Hahn in "Afternoon

Juno Temple, left, and Kathryn Hahn in "Afternoon Delight." Credit: Handout

Jill Soloway has some very impressive credentials as a television producer ("Six Feet Under," "Grey's Anatomy," "How to Make It in America," "The United States of Tara") but with her debut feature as a director, "Afternoon Delight," she runs into the same problem as any goateed indie wannabe: She knows how to get in, but doesn't know how to get out.

The set up for "Afternoon Delight" is, yes, a delight: The wonderful Kathryn Hahn (you know her, you just don't know you know her) is Rachel, whose husband, Jeff (Josh Radnor), has invented an app that's made their lives very comfortable, but Rachel is bored with the school auctions, kaffeeklatches and girl talk with other idle women that occupy her day. In an effort to jump-start their sex lives, Jeff and a buddy take their wives to a strip club, and each buys his wife a lap dance. Rachel's dancer is McKenna (Juno Temple), with whom she becomes immediately entranced and in a twist on the old "Of Human Bondage"/I'm-going-to-save-the-prostitute story, Rachel takes her home. To be her nanny.

The timing of the comedy is excellent. Hahn and Temple couldn't be better, each imbuing her character with waves of emotional complexity. But Soloway ultimately has nowhere to go. When Rachel discovers what being McKenna is really like -- she accompanies her on a "date" -- she loses her fascination, and when her friends find out, they want to lose her number. The problem is that the acting is so convincing -- including the always impressive Michaela Watkins -- that you go along with an impossible story. But only for so long. And yes, the title is the same as that 1976 hit by the Starland Vocal Band and, no, it doesn't make any more sense than the plot.

PLOT A bored Los Angeles housewife brings home a stripper to work as her children's nanny.

RATING R (strong sometimes graphic sexual content, language and some drug use)

CAST Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Michaela Watkins


BOTTOM LINE The story doesn't hold together, but Hahn and Temple are terrific.

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