The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed Review: Droll, Kinky Exploration of Millennial Angst

Joanna Arnow writes, directs, edits, and stars in this mind-meltingly hilarious comedy.

The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed gives new and unexpected, but by no means unwelcome, meaning to cringe comedy. Deadpan and droll in equal measure, Joanna Arnow’s film brilliantly and hilariously examines millennial angst through the discomfiting lens of BDSM.  Through a series of interconnected tableaus, The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed follows Ann (portrayed by Arnow, who also writes, directs, and edits), an erratic 30-something sleepwalking through her corporate job by day and testing the limits of a BDSM lifestyle by night.

In the opening scene, her older lover, Allen (Scott Cohen), fails to respond as she attempts to extract an orgasm from physical contact, criticizing Allen for his me-first, misogynistic approach to their on-again, off-again relationship. Ann will return to Allen multiple times throughout the film, each time completely naked, while Allen, fully clothed, either barely accepts her presence in his life or responds with barely veiled boredom to her imprecations.

Soon enough, however, it becomes clear that Ann’s interactions with Allen are part of a ritualized game of humiliation, part of the aforementioned BDSM. This, along with her droning work life and fraught relationships with her parents and sister, define her aimless life.

Ann suffers the slings and arrows of not-so-outrageous fortune at work, a bland, sterile environment, and a long-planned merger that will change everything and nothing simultaneously. In one mind-meltingly hilarious scene, Ann tussles with her micro-managing boss over her new job title and whether she can keep the word “and” in the official description. It’s that slightly annoying, but ultimately necessary white-collar job, the kind of job where Ann, like many of us prefer not to admit, can derive momentary pleasure from a successful, multi-gigabyte upload.

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The remaining episodes flip between various desultory encounters. Many involve her current, soon-to-be-past lovers, who each receive a chapter title of their own before Ann settles on Chris (Babak Tafti), the closest she ever comes to a traditional relationship. Other vignettes feature her parents (Barbara Weiserbs and David Arnow), their long-simmering arguments ending almost immediately after they begin, and her older sister (Alysia Reiner), a woman on the verge of a divorce and major life changes.

As Ann, Arnow makes for an intriguing, compelling protagonist from the first moment we meet her to the last. Paradoxically, she’s more comfortable naked and interacting with a partner than in other personal or professional circumstances, something that alludes to much of the film’s comedic insight on modern sexuality. Likewise, a talented cast, especially Cohen and Tafti as the two men with the greatest impact on Ann’s life, fully understands the heightened tone and restrained mood necessary for The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed to succeed aesthetically.

With an able assist from Barton Cartwright’s warmly naturalistic cinematography and perfectly calibrated editing by Arnow, The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed emerges as a singular character study, a minimalist mood piece, and a film fully worth the investment by anyone with a preference for the adventurous and provocative in their filmgoing experience.

The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed is now playing in theaters, courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

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