“I want to know you. For real.”


Co-written by director Miguel Arteta and star Alia Shawkat, Duck Butter is the story of two women who are disillusioned with the dishonesty in dating and decide to spend 24 hours together in an effort to force a real connection. There is something very modern in the inane idea of speedrunning a relationship but I would also venture that spending 24 straight hours with a new lover is no longer that unusual an experience. What follows between reserved actress Naima and free-spirited singer Sergio feels less like a narrative arc than a series of mood swings between bouts of sex. Cinematographer Hillary Spera captures physical intimacy free of the male gaze through a focus on touch and skin contact with little explicit nudity. However the emotional intimacy feels artificial due to the script and unconvincing chemistry. Laia Costa is no stranger to portraying experimentation in romantic relationships — I first came across her in Newness, which had considerably more to say — but here her character seems to vary wildly from scene to scene. Perhaps the filmmakers intended to show the couple discovering each other’s emotional triggers and inevitable dishonesty in a compressed time period, but it feels hollow. There is considerable irony in an early scene when Naima tells the Duplass brothers (playing themselves) that a scene they are directing feels forced; that is true for most of Duck Butter.