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Year of the Carnivore

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'Year of the Carnivore,' a 2009 Canadian film, is a bitter-sweet romantic comedy written and directed by Sook-Yin Lee. The film stars Cristin Milioti, widely recognized from the acclaimed series 'How I Met Your Mother,' in the role of Sammy Smalls, alongside Mark Rendall as Eugene and Ali Liebert as Sylvia. The film spins a captivating tale of self-discovery, personal growth, and the complicated nature of human relationships and sexuality.

The story revolves around Sammy Smalls, a 21-year-old tomboy who works as a shop detective at a grocery store, pining for love and acceptance but grappling with a spate of personal and professional hardships. Her low self-esteem is fueled by her troubled past, a limp from a childhood accident, and her overbearing mother. Still, Sammy possesses an unyielding sense of determination and a quirky sense of humor that endears her to the audience.

Sammy's life takes an intriguing turn when she stumbles upon Eugene, an aspiring musician played by Mark Rendall. Enchanted by his free spirit and artistic soul, Sammy quickly falls for him. Unfortunately, her lack of experience in matters of the heart and bedroom proves to be a roadblock in their blossoming relationship. Eugene's interest wanes upon discovering Sammy's virginal status. As a solution, he proposes that Sammy 'gain experience' before they can plunge into a relationship.

Taking this advice to heart, Sammy embarks on a humorous and at times, heartbreaking journey of sexual discovery, encountering a colorful cast of characters. Ali Liebert plays Sylvia, Sammy's best friend and contrasting character. Sylvia is comfortable with her sensuality and often engages in casual relationships, offering a counter-narrative to Sammy's sexual exploration. The juxtaposition of these characters provides a nuanced exploration of the sexual attitudes prevalent in society.

Throughout the movie, every character Sammy encounters aids her growth in one way or another. While her pursuit of experience may seem odd and challenging at times, there's a reverse coming-of-age story that reintroduces Sammy to herself. She traverses from being a socially maladroit, gawky girl to being a confident woman who owns her decisions and learns to accept herself for who she is, wobbly leg and all.

'Year of the Carnivore' offers a distinctive perspective on the themes of sexuality, self-acceptance, and what it truly means to grow up. Sook-Yin Lee manages to walk the thin line between absurdity and profundity, peppering the narrative with laugh-out-loud scenarios while also tugging at the audience's heartstrings. The film is inherently female-centric; however, it effectively straddles a universal appeal that invites audiences of all backgrounds to engage with Sammy's story.

While Sammy's character is the heart of the film, Eugene and Sylvia's characters effortlessly compliment her personal narrative, bringing a balance to the storyline. Mark Rendall portrays the character of Eugene with a distinctive charm that makes Sammy's pursuit of him believable, while Ali Liebert's Sylvia exudes a rebellious allure that contrasts perfectly with Sammy's naivety.

What sets 'Year of the Carnivore' apart from conventional romantic comedies is Sook-Yin Lee's nuanced handling of the subject of female sexuality, liberally sprinkled with honest humor. There is no excessive sentimentalism, and the storytelling remains grounded and relatable.

Ultimately, 'Year of the Carnivore' is a deeply humane tale, intelligent and witty, that engages the audience in the delightful and illuminating adventures of an unforgettable young woman grappling with the universal rites of passage into adulthood. The film successfully marries humor and poignancy, serving up a refreshing breed of rom-com that speaks to the complex dynamics of love, sex, and relationships in the modern world. The film's quirky charm, along with the fantastic performance by Cristin Milioti, makes it a must-watch for anyone looking for an unconventional story rich in warmth and hilarity.

Year of the Carnivore is a Comedy, Romance movie released in 2009. It has a runtime of 88 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 5.7..

Sook-Yin Lee
Cristin Milioti, Mark Rendall, Will Sasso, Ali Liebert, Luke Camilleri
Also starring Cristin Milioti
Year of the Carnivore is available on .