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Balmy Rooftop: The Dish and the Spoon

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Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander in a film still from The Dish and the Spoon, at Rooftop Films this past weekend

We landed on the roof over the weekend to catch the Rooftop Films presentation of The Dish and the Spoon. Screened at Seward Park High School, known as Open Road Rooftop to the folks at Rooftop Films, it was part of a series of films that premiered at the annual South by Southwest Festival in March.

The film stars mumblecore darling Greta Gerwig as Rose, a young woman who experiences a meltdown after learning about her husband’s affair and takes up with an emotionally stranded British teenager played by Olly Alexander. The sweet coming of age story takes place amid the wreckage and ruin of a desolate off-season Delaware beach town.

When Rose happens upon the unnamed boy-man, she swallows her rage temporarily to automatically make him hers. The pair spend days together in innocent idyll and periods of heightened tension discovering and experiencing one another’s traumatic landmines.

There wasn’t a lot of mumbling here. In fact, Gerwig’s wails, screams and hysterical crying fits punctuated the otherwise quiet film. She, who has been branded the “Meryl Streep of mumblecore,” is convincing as a wounded animal who expresses her torment like the Furies. Rose wants payback.  And yet, she returns home to her husband in the end—we don’t really know why but it’s tender and real. If you have to ask why, you don’t understand the lovely mystery and gift of unconditional love and forgiveness.

Gerwig expertly sheds her mumblecore mystique for quirky, grenade-throwing fits of pique that help illuminate this otherwise slow-moving, closely observed story.  Interviewed by the Rooftop Films blog, Director Alison Bagnall described her interest in magical realism and dreamlike sequences.

I have an attraction to those periods of crisis which feel so terrible in the moment that you are living them, but which – in hindsight – can feel like a dream.  That you are nostalgic for.  Or sometimes you can meet a stranger for a brief period and imagine an entire alternate life…which then never comes to be.  But you carry around the memory of the few days you spent in the company of that person. …”

Alexander’s character is Rose’s confessor and vehicle for working through the pain of her husband’s betrayal. The pair mock marry one another and traipse through the off-season dreamscape. Theirs is a quirky, faux romance.

Rooftop Films runs 45 screenings across 13 different New York City locations—including the LES each weekend. Check out the complete list of Rooftop Films’ screenings here.

Best of all, Rooftop has partnered with Fontana’s on Eldridge St. for post-film libations. Next up on June 10 at Open Road Rooftop, New York Non-Fiction, a series of short films ranging from 3 to 21 minutes, made by New Yorkers in New York. And on June 11, check out Green, a film by Brooklyn-based director Sophia Takal who writes, directs and stars in a story about a literary couple that experiences relationship troubles during a stay outside the city.

Tobi Elkin is a writer, editor and interviewer who lives in the Lower East Side and is a regular reader of The Lo-Down. Her diverse interests include arts and entertainment, film, food and cultural critique.

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