SWEET TALK Movie Review
For those who appreciate the power of storytelling, Sweet Talk is, despite itself at times, a unique and enjoyable film.
Natalie Zea, a well-known television actress (“Justified,” “The Following”), stars as Delilah, a quietly intelligent but troubled phone-sex worker who finds herself playing chess or reading the paper while whispering in a husky voice to her callers. The stereotypical carelessly-dressed tomboy who’s a knockout even in her overalls, Delilah is always with her copy of Anna Karenina. She is also often haunted by the vision of an aging, silent man. An easy physical representation of the fear she carries around, this man appears even in the midst of her fantasies with Samson.
Samson (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) is a blocked but energetic writer, hopping and twisting and running around his apartment most of the time, talking to his single pet bird, never seemingly operating at a low frequency—which you start to wish he would. Uninspired one night, he finds Sweet Talk’s ad in the paper and calls, not knowing what to expect. What he asks for, and what Delilah eventually finds herself wanting in return, is a whole lot of historical, elaborate, and mutual erotic storytelling that has the power to transport both characters out of their everyday lives.
While there are many exasperating parts to Sweet Talk—Parise is often too dramatic in his character representations, and the fantasies themselves border on the very cheesy and stereotypical—there is still much to appreciate. Zea holds the film together as jaded Delilah. In one of the best (and most real) scenes, she sits on the couch in her overalls, reading Anna Karenina nonchalantly while her roommate and coworker (Lindsay Hollister) simultaneously moans for a man on the phone while flossing her teeth.
Despite multiple mentions throughout the movie that men are the ones who feel depressed or uninterested after sex (the reverse is true), and all the cliched, supposedly feminine romantic fantasies involving fur and jewels, Sweet Talk is ultimately about the woman getting what she wants. Written by Peter Lefcourt and directed by wife Terri Hanauer, it ends on an often unheard-of note: a woman enjoying her time with a stranger but not asking for anything more.