Duck Butter (2018)

Duck Butter
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Miguel Arteta, Alia Shawkat
Cast: Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Mae Whitman, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjiani, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Lindsay Burdge
Seen on: 20.4.2020

Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) meet by chance at a night club and have a great evening/night together. As they talk, they come up with the idea to fast-forward through their relationship to see if it is meant to be by spending 24hours together without sleep – but with sex every hour. Naima hesitates at first and says she can’t because she has to work as an actress, but when she gets fired, she returns to Sergio and the two actually do give it a try.

Duck Butter is very much an American independent movie – how much that is or isn’t up you alley is probably a matter of taste. I did enjoy it for the most part, but the ending rubbed me the wrong way.

The film poster showing a drawing of almost just the eyes of Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa).


Duck Butter should be right up my alley. A film about two bisexual women (caveat: they don’t call themselves that but they do talk about sexual experiences with both men and women, so I’m assuming) falling in love, or at least trying to? Uhm, yes, please. That both women aren’t easy characters should make things even better.

But, as I said before, the film is very much an American independent. This is not per se a bad thing, but usually it does have a couple of ingredients that can easily go wrong for me: navel-gazing protagonists (who more often than not work as artists in some way); almost incessant talking; at least one moment of grossness; and a certain pessimism that pretends to be “just realistic”. And while I didn’t mind the first three things in the case of Duck Butter (though they all apply), in fact, I actually enjoyed the protagonists and their talks, I think it’s the last thing most of all that annoyed me.

Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa) playing the piano.

I have just seen too many queer couples who don’t make it in the films and series that deign to include them in the first place. I think I need a lifetime of happy endings before I can easily accept an unhappy one for queers again. Duck Butter does soften the disappointment by showing that, while they may not have ended up together, Naima and Sergio have both been affected and changed by each other, which is also nice. But still. I’d rather have seen them together.

When things draw to a close and it becomes ever more obvious that it is not going to end well, I started to emotionally disengage from the film. And that ultimately made it weaker than it could have been.

Naima (Alia Shawkat) and Sergio (Laia Costa)

Summarizing: It does have its good parts.

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