Tribeca 2018: Duck Butter

Alia Shawkat as Alia and Laia Costa as Laia in DUCK BUTTER. Photo credit: Hillary Spera.

Taking place over the course of 24 hours, the relationship-driven Duck Butter may be a lesbian-themed film but there’s so much more to the film than just that alone.

Before the film gets into the thick of the action, it’s learned early on that Naima (Alia Shawkat) is an actress currently working in a Duplass Brothers film with the likes of Jake (Kumail Nanjiani) and Kate (Lindsay Burdge).  Because the film takes place over the course of a day, they aren’t seen from again.  In any event, Naima heads over to a club, where Sergio (Laia Costa) is performing one of her first English tunes.  The two of them quickly connect with each other over their pasts in previous relationships.

This is where the film becomes one of the hottest films of the the year:  Naima and Sergio vow have have sex every hour over the next 24 hours.  They do this with the thought process of believing that that idea of perfect honesty is more powerful than the deception that comes with contemporary relationships.  It doesn’t go as they would like and they’re going to have to work hard if they want their relationship to last.

Miguel Arteta has quickly become one of those directors whose films are ones in which I look forward to upon release.  Last year’s Beatriz at Dinner had a lot to offer on the social commentary front.  The script, co-written with Alia Shawkat, has a lot to say about relationships over the course of a 24 hour period.  What does it mean for a potential relationship if there’s a chance that it might not be able to survive past the first day?

It’s not the typical film one usually expects from Arteta.  It’s more experimental in nature in that the final product draws a lot on improvisation rather than a full-length feature screenplay complete with all the dialogue.  Moreover, the role of Sergio was originally written for a male but when Laia Costa came on board, Arteta and Shawkat changed the film for the better.  There’s really no reason why films need to be about men and women in relationships when there are a number of LGBTQ people in relationships and under-represented on screen.

It’s one thing for documentaries to shoot for hours at a time but narrative features typically require rest on the part of those actors involved.  With Duck Butter, the large bulk of the second and third acts are shot in just over a day!  This is something that is certainly seen through the performances of both Shawkat and Costa.  As they close in on the final hours of the 24-hour period, you can see the exhaustion in their eyes and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In being set over a 24-hour period, Duck Butter has a lot to offer when it comes to present-day relationships with remarkable performances from both Alia Shawkat and Laia Costa.

DIRECTOR:  Miguel Arteta
SCREENWRITERS:  Miguel Arteta and Alia Shawkat
CAST:  Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjiani, Lindsay Burdge, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass

An official selection of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, Duck Butter premiered as a part of the U.S. Narrative Competition.  The Orchard opened Duck Butter in NY/LA on April 27, 2018.  A digital release will follow on May 1, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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