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Year of the Carnivore sinks its hooks with quirky yet endearing comedy

Sex is a laughing matter for Sammy Smalls (Cristin Milioti), who can’t stop giggling when she’s wriggling.

Year of the Carnivore
Genre: Comedy
Director: Sook-Yin Lee
Stars: Cristin Milioti, Mark Rendall, Kevin McDonald
Rating: ***

Sex is a laughing matter for Sammy Smalls (Cristin Milioti), who can’t stop giggling when she’s wriggling. Blame it on her body-image issues, but it’s a deal-breaker for Sammy’s busker boyfriend Eugene (Mark Rendall).

Solution? She needs experience, pronto, and sets out to get it the way a bull goes china shopping. Any man with a pulse is in danger of meeting Sammy’s newly unleashed libido, whether he likes it or not.

That’s the hook for Sook-Yin Lee’s decidedly quirky yet endearing comedy that wears its Juno crush like a hickey, and I mean that in a good way.

Milioti is a real find, bringing humour and empathy to a character that might normally summon thoughts of a restraining order.

Sammy is a 21-year-old shop detective at a grocery store. She’s good at spotting shoplifters — including one oldster who hides a steak under his hat — but she leaves the punishment to her boss, who metes out summary justice out back.

She doesn’t like her work, but it beats having to move back home with her nutso mom and dad (Sheila McCarthy and Kevin McDonald).

Of much greater concern of Sammy is her inability to have sex without having a giggle fit, a problem that has prompted exasperated Eugene, a true free thinker, who insists she play the field. Sammy does so in a way that combines work with pleasure, after a fashion.

As creepy and crazy as this scenario sounds, Milioti never loses touche with the audience. Neither does writer/director Lee, who must have drawn on some alternative life experience for the film, her feature directing debut. She’s able to get in touch with the needs of a nerdy naïf.
Extras include a making-of featurette and short films by Sook-Yin Lee.

 
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