Unlike most people my age, I still have a surreal view of love despite a plethora of failed relationships and a horrendous first marriage. Sometimes, I feel like I am the only person who doesn’t have a screwed up concept of love. But thankfully I did find my true love before anything happened to my ideology. Enter the movie Year of the Carnivore, a movie that disguises itself to be about sex when in reality it is more a statement about good old fashioned love.
Eight O’ Clock. Just another day for Sammy Smalls (played by Cristin Milioti) until she peers out his window and stares at a guy engaged in a self sexual act. (it is not graphic, just disturbing). Interested, she doesn’t even realize she is eating off her parent’s picture. So off Sammy goes to the grocery store to do her job as store security. She catches a old man stealing a steak and hands him over to the store manager, Dirk (played by Will Sasso) who mulls him over.
Sammy is not really happy with her job as store detective as she walks out for the day. She spots a man named Eugene (played by Mark Rendallsinging and playing an instrument on the corner as she throws him a few pieces of change. They exchange pleasantries and go on their separate ways. She goes back to work and catches a guy with a nudie magazine. They scuffle and as usual Dirk takes him to the back room to kick his rear.
After a while, the guy stumbles out and mistakenly recognizes one of the other store employees, Sylvia (played by Ali Liebert) as Candy Carlton from his porn collection. After Sylvia’s correction (she’s really a molecular biologist), the guy throws a dart into Sammy’s leg and runs away. Interesting, I have never seen that one before. Back to more crazy music from Eugene as Sammy and him travel to the local emergency unit to take a look at her leg.
Meanwhile, her parents the Smalls (played by Kevin McDonald and Sheila McCarthy) berate her over the flesh wound. Well the mother does and then tells her they gave up the dog for adoption. Frustrated, she tries to get the dog back to no avail and then goes off to visit Eugene to swallow her sorrow. As she vomits, she accidentally tells Eugene that she loves him. After some uneasiness on Sammy’s part, they decide to take a bath together.
The two joke around in the tub which leads to a lovemaking session. Well, a confused love making session. Which doesn’t quite go anywhere. Eugene is reluctant to go any further with Sammy because he hates the concept of love. Sammy pushes him about love, and eventually Eugene rejects her because she is inexperienced. The two stay friends, but now Sammy must figure out how to become more experienced. So begins the awakening of Sammy Smalls, sex experience wanted at any costs.
Let me get something off my chest, Cristin Milioti has a deadpan similarity for Sarah Silverman minus the cursing and bad humor. Needless to say, she is cute and delivers her lines with the exact personality that this role needs. I wish I could say the same for Mark Rendall. He is a competent enough actor, but the character is anything but likeable. He is confused, annoying and the pink haired chick in his band said it best, pathetic.
With that aside, there is plenty of other performances in the film that stand out. Will Sasso and Ali Leibert put in excellent performances despite the small roles. There is a delicious quirkiness to the movie. It does not paint love with a pretty picture but speaks volumes about the living of life. It is one of my personal beliefs that in order to truly appreciate love, you have to appreciate life. This movie does this in spades.
The video is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Video is pretty acceptable here, lots of good color but there is a touch of softness. Of course it helps when there is a few women to gawk at like Ali Leibert. Surprisingly, there is excellent detail in the shots, and despite the obvious small budget, the look is pleasing. Just wish there was a little less grain, that’s all.
The audio is presented in 5.1 (2.0 Mix also included) English Dolby Digital. I might be growing old but I never thought a 5.1 track could be so faint. My volume knob had to be increased by fifty percent above normal range and still sounded pithy. If you don’t mind this little problem, then the dialog is decent. Sound effects are limited but this is one of the tracks that is defined by dialog and some moaning.
- Automatic Trailers: See You in September, Spooner, and The People I’ve Slept With.
- Making Of 12:44: Your fluff behind the scenes featurette as we spend time with the director, Sook-Yin Lee mixed in with clips of the movie. She does a lot of explaining her own concepts about life and love and how it led her to make this movie. It is not a bad featurette, just there isn’t much meat on the bones.
The movie is unrated. If I had to be honest, the movie is probably a hard R. It is certainly not softcore nor do they really show anything but it is a very adult movie in concept and some of the sexual stuff. It is a movie that makes a statement about life, more so than the sex and love wallpapering that surrounds the plot of the movie. Cristin pulls in a great performance and bring the range and quirkiness that this movie needs.
The disc has above average video but unfortunately the audio is rather disappointing. The extras are pithy and well I just did not care for Mark Rendall’s portrayal of Eugene. On a movie and concept level, I can easily recommend the film. Just be sure to turn up your speaker’s volume and enjoy the ride. It is cute, wonderful and it is good to know that love is not dead, because life is alive.