PALM SPRINGS SHORTFEST REVIEW! In Marcy Learns Something New, the recent widow is trying to find her place in the world. The titular character fills her time with fitness classes to better herself and online dating sites to keep her mind off of her loss. One class stands out from the rest, so Marcy (Rachel Dratch) now devotes a significant amount of time learning everything she can about becoming a dominatrix. She joins the class and finds an interested party with her friend, Ben (Henry Ayres-Brown), which drives her further into this world. Marcy’s personality does not necessarily run parallel with those participating in sadomasochism. Still, she is determined to make this work, and, as we know from the title, Marcy Learns Something New.
Rachel Dratch is known for playing odd characters in films with big talents such as Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston and for being a forgotten addition to Saturday Night Live. She often plays roles subordinate to those big names, but audiences tend to find her entertaining and awkwardly funny. I can’t say that I have seen Dratch in a dominant role before watching Marcy Learns Something New, but this film sheds new light on the talented actor.
While the film is short, it is long enough for Dratch to intrigue audiences and makes them realize that she has what it takes to lead a Hollywood film. There are some unfortunate articles out there that claim it is Dratch’s looks, which prohibits her from landing substantial roles in Hollywood. Honestly, I can’t say whether or not I entirely disagree. The premise that she is unable to lead a film based on looks is ridiculous, but I would be hard-pressed to say that Dratch is not pigeonholed due to her appearance, causing her to become an afterthought, ultimately limiting her roles and delaying her potential big break.
“…Marcy now devotes a significant amount of time learning everything she can about becoming a dominatrix.”
It seems that the world, more than ever before, is obsessed with the aesthetics of actors and characters in film, and relies heavily on audiences finding them physically attractive. Well, the adage: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true. Based on her performance, I honestly believe that Dratch will open the eyes of many to her acting ability and sexual prowess. Dratch shows audiences and filmmakers alike that she can lead a film while appealing to the perpetual need for sex in Hollywood. Writer-director Julia Kennelly has given Dratch her first real chance at finding breakthrough success.
Marcy Learns Something New offers little depth, but it contains enough twists and turns to keep audiences guessing. Dratch is charged with delivering these surprises with subtlety and does so quite effectively. She successfully delivers Kennelly’s awkwardly funny story while maintaining a professional approach to a somewhat taboo subject. It is clear that Kennelly’s vision and Dratch’s talent match up, and because of that, Marcy Learns Something New is successful.
The idea behind Marcy Learns Something New is, initially, a bit difficult to wrap your head around. As the story progresses and Dratch puts on the charm, I found myself appreciating the story, while still feeling a bit uncomfortable in the process. The premise, and the film itself, is not for everyone, and I’d venture to guess that the majority of viewers might struggle to appreciate all it has to offer. The somewhat illicit subject is what makes the short so appealing. Kennelly and Dratch keep the dry, raunchy humor on the surface rather than forcing audiences to dig for it, and they succeed in engaging the viewers. I applaud Dratch’s performance and beg that those with a stranglehold on Hollywood find Marcy Learns Something New and give her a chance to find mainstream success.
Marcy Learns Something New screened at the 2020 Palm Springs Shortfest.
"…Kennelly has given Dratch her first real chance at finding breakthrough success."