Trigger Warning: Perfectly Good Moment is definitely an adult-themed movie – and one that explores sex, abuse, and violence – so this review contains those sorts of subjects (and so does the film!).
Perfectly Good Moment is a smart psychosexual thriller that explores the relationship between Ruby (Amanda Jane Stern) and David(Stephen Carlile) – a relationship that started when she was 19 and he was 34. This film isn’t content to just play to the tropes – instead it refocuses, reinvigorates, and reshapes the entire genre. Perfectly Good Moment is a daring exploration of the power dynamic between Ruby and David. The award-winning, 72 minute long feature will be making its premiere in the Pacific Northwest as part of the three-day West Sound Film Festival. Perfecntly Good Moment will be showing Saturday, August 5th at SeeFilm Cinema in Bremerton, Washington. Tickets for the festival are available here.
Perfectly Good Moment engrossed me from its first moments, where we see Ruby and David meet, until its last. Each moment was effective at building a story I found to be both interesting and moving. The beautiful cinematography and engaging story create a well-paced multi-layered experience that is an effective, visceral exploration of Ruby and David’s toxic (and disturbingly common) relationship dynamic. The original score by Mdou Moctar’s Mikey Coltun is perfect in enhancing the mood of every scene. Instead of playing into the common view point often seen in erotic thrillers, Perfectly Good Moment makes bold and daring decisions that create space (and language) for further conversations.
This was part of the intent of both Lauren Greenhall (the film’s director) and writer/star Amanda Jane Stern. Stern developed and wrote the script from a story she co-wrote with producer Julian Seltzer.
Stern said, “We are in a moment of cultural reckoning about these stories. Time and time again, audiences have seen the age-gap relationship story told from the man’s perspective.”
This intent shines through, and instead of the common exploration of this relationship from the male gaze, Perfectly Good Moment centers Ruby’s expressions and experiences as we watch the relationship develop – and exhibit the common, cyclical patterns of abuse.
Because of the importance of sex and intimacy to the story, which covers challenging themes such as power, abuse, and violence, Greenhall, Stern, and Lead Actor Stephen Carlile all knew an intimacy coordinator was vital. Intimacy Coordinator Acacia DëQueer ensured that everyone’s boundaries were respected and that everyone felt safe during the process of filming.
Amanda Jane Stern and Stephen Carlile not only give stellar performances , but create varying tension between them as we move through their story. It’s so palpable it feels as though the relationship itself is a character in and of itself that holds them in thrall. His abuse escalates from the emotional and mental abuse of dismissing her and her job to something far more dangerous.
Every moment of Perfectly Good Moment shows the passion and dedication to the story and a reverence for the feelings and experiences that inspired it. I admire its bravery and emotional intelligence, and the fearless performances of Stern and Carlile make this film a must-watch for those who wish the standard May-December romance story was retold from the feminine perspective. Carlile gives an amazing performance as the insecure control-seeking David, who is ultimately seeking of a life made of only perfectly good moments. Stern shines as Ruby – not only is she able to embody the naive, craving young woman who meets David – but also the abuse-tempered Ruby who returns to see David again. . .
I don’t want to give too much away, because I want you to be able to enjoy this gem for yourself. For sure try and catch it at the West Sound Film Festival – it’s lovely cinematography, conscientious foley (there were some inspired sound moments!), and amazing score would make a positive delight to experience on the big screen.