image+nation culture queer


Wes Hurley | USA | 2020 | 95 min | ENGLISH

In one of its infinitely clever cinematic tricks, this semi-autobiographical tour de force transforms suffering into the grinning melodrama of old American movies. Film-obsessed Potato and his depressed but self-possessed mother tangle with communism, exoticism, and sexuality on the way to their Hollywood ending.

We begin in Vladivostok, USSR, in 1985, where the sketchiness of memory is reflected in painterly sets and theatrical acting, as if the inspired zaniness of Michel Gondry fused with the compositional precision of Wes Anderson. After a young, awkward Potato (Hersh Powers) and his mother (Sera Barbieri) secure two tickets to America when she becomes a mail-order bride, the film’s style and main actors shift, and now we are in a hyper-realized Seattle, where an eye-catching Potato (Tyler Bocock) and his mother (Marya Sea Kaminski) must outmaneuver her strict new husband (Dan Lauria), who is harbouring an unexpected secret. Boasting Orange is the New Black’s Lea DeLaria (as Potato’s acerbic grandmother), Mean Girls’ Jonathan Bennett (as a fey, TV-obsessed Jesus Christ), and one of the most delightful coming out scenes in the LGBTQ+ catalogue, this darkly comedic, erotic, and warm-hearted Potato has all the fixings.