The Dish & the Spoon (dir. Alison Bagnall, 2011)

Waiting for someone to arrive can be a profoundly sad experience. Perhaps this was on filmmaker Alison Bagnall’s mind when she made her lyrically thoughtful The Dish & the Spoon, a film about – among other things – two slightly off-kilter souls waiting for others to materialize. The greatly talented Greta Gerwig plays Rose, a young woman freshly stinging from the news of her husband’s infidelity (when we first see her she is wearing pajamas under a heavy coat, suggesting she tore from home without a second’s meditation) who travels to wintry seaside Delaware to hunt down the other woman. Rose spends a great deal of the film palpably angry, stalking and often screaming around the damp town of Dover, looking for a largely allusive offender who, to Rose, can’t appear quickly enough.

She acquires a sidekick early on, an unnamed British teenager (played with endearing sensitivity and self-possession by Olly Alexander), who spouts Herman Melville and mentions that he came to the United States to see a girl, waited for her at a designated location for six hours, only finally to be met by the girl and her ex-boyfriend. Rose too abandons the boy many times before the film concludes, and he waits for her with the forlorn patience of a young person in love, unsure of when or if she will come back. Bagnall’s use of stormy East Coast beachscapes, a summertime tourist magnet that has a swaddled, forgotten feeling in the winter months, sets a melancholy tone. Meanwhile the two leads roam about in the wind and rain, talking, playing, splitting and returning, united in their prolonged expectations.

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