Director Jiyoung Lee, in a Q&A after the film, mentioned Beavis and Butthead as her biggest influence as a filmmaker, but Female Pervert is more than just jokes about flatulence and hairy balls–though there's plenty of that too.
Phoebe (Jennifer Kim) is your average 20-something, and like many people her age, she finds it difficult to keep a relationship for more than a few dates. Making things worse is her weird little obsessions: she's into gross things, from ingrown hairs to pimples–in fact, she's designing a computer game about tweezing them for points–and her forthrightness about her weirdness tends to drive guys away. Female Pervert follows her adventures in dating, friendship, and work as she struggles to find meaningful relationships with others when nobody seems to get her.
The premise and tone could have come across as obnoxiously juvenile if not for the wonderfully layered performance by Jennifer Kim in the lead role. While there are nice performances peppered in the rest of the cast (Joshua Mikel is quite good as well), Kim is clearly the standout. She brings a level of reality and familiarity to a script that could have been sheer camp. Phoebe is endearing and funny, and I found myself rooting for her in a movie I expected to be just a goofy romp.
Female Pervert is uniquely funny; lets take the opening scene for example. Phoebe is showing off her theremin to her date, and things get sweet as she shows him how to play it. You can tell he's sort of falling for her quirkiness a little bit, but this suddenly disappears when she gets out a dildo and suggests he play the theremin with it–or better yet, his own penis. The timing is hilarious, as is the man's reaction as he keeps protesting, "Nah, that will definitely be weird" as she insists he whip it out to play the spacey instrument.
The movie is full of idiosyncratic moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, whether through Phoebe's fumbles whenever she reveals her strange ideas to her dates, the spot-on awkwardness of a small book club, or her long conversations with pushy NGO telemarketers. It takes a look at a slice of modern people, poking fun at pretentious hipsters following the newest anti-toxins trend, parents who are unaware that their children are lunatics, and the general difficulty of finding someone like minded. Luckily though, it never delves too far into the annoying world of quirky indie-ness, instead treading the line expertly while satirizing those who think they live in a Noah Baumbach movie.
It's an episodic sort of film that doesn't have a strong structure, but that doesn't necessarily work against it. Rather than follow a rigid plot with Phoebe moving from person to person wouldn't be nearly as interesting as the sort of bits and pieces we see of her day to day experiences with a loose through line of her attempts to find a boyfriend. It may make for a less impactful story than what some might be looking for, but is certainly memorable for all its cleverness and gross-out charm.
Female Pervert ends on a sudden note as we see that Phoebe has the best time babysitting her boss's young son, and it suggests something surprisingly poignant about the main theme of the movie; that sometimes, a relationship doesn't have to be perfectly meaningful or an absolute match, but can just be fun. There's something very interesting in the idea that Phoebe's pillow fight with a hyperactive 7-year old is the only interaction she has that doesn't end in awkward disaster. It seems to hint that its okay to just have fun with no more significance than that, that there is value in fun for fun's sake. This applies to the movie on the whole: Female Pervert is not going to leave you pondering the meaning of life, but will definitely have you smiling all the way home, and there's something uniquely rewarding about that.
Female Pervert premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and recently screened at the Atlanta Film Festival, the hometown festival for Atlanta-native director Jiyoung Lee. Check out the trailer below and keep an ear out for further festival screening dates!