When Charlene deGuzman was still but a comedic Twitter force with a few viral YouTube videos under her belt, she slid into Mark Duplass’ DMs to send him a script for her pilot. To deGuzman’s surprise and delight, Duplass wrote back right away to say he loved it and wanted to turn it into a film. More than two years later, “Unlovable” is opening in theaters after impressing critics and audiences at its SXSW debut.
With help from fellow filmmaker Sarah Adina Smith (“Buster’s Mal Heart”), Duplass and deGuzman collaborated on the script, which is based on deGuzman’s own experiences with addiction and recovery. They enlisted director Suzi Yoonessi, and nabbed the powerhouse acting duo of Melissa Leo and John Hawkes, who play embittered siblings in the film.
DeGuzman stars as Joy, a young woman in recovery for sex and love addiction. She enlists Maddie (Leo) to act as her sponsor, who accepts the challenge reluctantly. While living in Maddie’s guest house, Joy encounters her socially awkward brother Jim (Hawkes), and the duo forges an unlikely friendship as they begin making music together. Though Maddie is initially suspicious, Joy’s friendship with Jim is the least of her worries as she stumbles on her road to remaining clean of sex and love for 30 days.
In her B+ review out of SXSW, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote: “It’s a fluffy spin on the recovery genre, but it’s a fresh one, and deGuzman’s hard-won life experience adds veracity and honesty to the snappy narrative. She’s also just plain wonderful to watch, providing a tough character in a tough situation with the maximum of grace.”
Orion Classics will release “Unlovable” in theaters November 1, and digital and on demand November 2. Check out the trailer below.