Lena Dunham is exploring female sensuality and confronting the “judgment and shame” that often surrounds it both in life and cinema through Sharp Stick. She is the creator, writer, and star of the film that follows a young woman’s physical awakening post-heartbreak. Sharp Stick debuted virtually at the Sundance Film Festival in January, but all audiences can now catch a glimpse of the film through a red band trailer that dropped today.
In a statement, Dunham addresses how Sharp Stick is utilizing intimate relationships as a form of healing, not something that is tied to regret, as we often see in other films and tv shows.
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“It’s a joke as old as celluloid that the minute we spot [an] active girl in a horror movie, we know she’s going to die in a blood death. She’s let someone touch her below the neck, and so she’s marked for murder. But there’s a more subtle crime we commit toward women on camera, where female characters who dare to take a journey [physically] may not get full-on murdered, but they do endure another kind of torture — one more exquisite and subtle. It’s a torture of judgment, of questioning, of self-doubt and loneliness and regret over choices that should ultimately just be part of the fabric of self-actualization in that same way it can be for their male counterparts. Interrogating these cinematic iniquities, I began to imagine a character whose journey would be totally unique, unmarred by shame or self-hate or the projections of others. She would use [hookups] not to destroy her body but to heal it from a history of medicalized trauma and cultural projection.”
Sharp Stick follows the story of 26-year-old caregiver Sarah Jo who begins an affair with her married boss, Josh. In the trailer, we hear Sarah Jo describe her profound connection to Josh, but see him returning to his wife, Heath (played by Dunham). This sends Sarah Jo on a journey of sensuality, loss, and power.
Sharp Stick stars Kristine Froseth as Sara Jo, Jon Bernthal as Josh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Taylour Paige, Luka Sabbat, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Scott Speedman. Paige also serves as a producer for the film. Sharp Stick premieres in theaters in New York City and Los Angeles July 29, followed by a nationwide release on August 5. Sharp Stick will be available on digital platforms beginning August 16.
Dunham is most notably known as the creator, writer and star of the hit HBO series Girls. Dunham also served as director on several episodes and became the first woman to earn a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing in a comedy series. Dunham has another film debuting this year, Catherine, Called Birdy, an adaptation of Karen Cushman’s novel of the same name.
Jon Bernthal Has A Similar Role in the Works
Bernthal will star in the film as a married man and father whose affair with Sarah Jo ends in heartbreak. Bernthal, who is most notably known for his role in HBO’s We Run the City, is also starring in another upcoming title that’s focused on intimate relationships. He’ll be portraying male escort Julian Kaye in an upcoming series sequel to Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo.
The role of Kaye was originally played by Richard Gere in the 1980s film. The upcoming series will follow Bernthal’s character as he navigates modern-day prostitution and reconnects with his former lover (Gretchen Mol). American Gigolo is produced by Paramount TV Studios with Jerry Bruckheimer Television.
In an interview with GQ earlier this year, the actor discussed his confusion with being cast in these types of roles, saying:
“I do not believe that I possess any kind of natural sex appeal. I’ve always looked at myself as this weird-looking guy.”