Midway through Bread and Butter, I had to remind myself that I was still watching a movie. This first feature, written and directed by Liz Manashil, follows Amelia (Christine Weatherup), a sweet woman on the verge of turning thirty, as she attempts to lose her virginity. Based on the plot alone, the film could easily be a late-night sex romp filled with horny boys and wet t-shirt contests, or, it could be a female-led equal-opportunity feminist undertaking. Bread and Butter is neither of those things. Much like the work of Lena Dunham, the film is an uber-realistic look at growing up, figuring out what love is, and normalizing sexuality. With her indie-sensibility and A+ cast, Manashil unpacks the ideas of fantasy, awkwardness, and the awkwardness of fantasy.
Christine Weatherup inhabits Amelia with a sense of naivete that straddles the line of nostalgia and narcissism. Her sweetness and refusal to see the bad in people reminds you of what it was like to be sixteen and in love, but then you remember that this woman is almost thirty, and you can’t help but wonder why an adult woman would expect a storybook romance to play out in 21st century Los Angeles. When she starts to follow the handwritten clues in a pre-owned books, Amelia finds herself faced with a dilemma most of us face while still in high school. Pulled between the sweet dork Daniel (SNL‘s Bobby Moynihan) and the manic-depressive bad boy Leonard (Homeland‘s Micah Hauptman). Like when all of us experienced the same, Amelia chooses the bad boy, explaining away his narcissism as romantic and impulsive, and insisting that she will be the one to change him. By her side is her idealized and codependent best friend, hilariously portrayed by Lauren Lapkus (Orange is the New Black) and her Life Coach boss (Eric Lange, Lost). With their help, Amelia eventually confronts her unrealistic expectations and learns that true love is hard word, and it doesn’t come prepackaged in a storybook.
Throughout the film I felt myself equal parts charmed by the characters and cringing at the uncomfortable situation I was watching unfold. Weatherups’s Amelia is extremely relatable and someone with whom most viewers can empathize. Who hasn’t fallen for someone who was objectively horrible? Though the film is, at times, extremely uncomfortable to watch, it’s only because the situations are so human and relatable. Who hasn’t looked past someone who was so nice and understanding and would be great for us if only we just gave them a chance? Watching Bread and Butter was like reliving my early twenties—adorably innocent, awkward, and full of hope.
By Josh Allen Goldman