Lena Dunham harnesses the power of sex in ways Hollywood has rarely seen before in her latest directorial feature, Sharp Stick.
Below, EW has the exclusive first trailer for the upcoming comedy, which follows sensitive, wide-eyed caregiver Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) as begins sleeping with her married employer, Josh (Jon Bernthal). When Josh breaks off the affair and goes back to his wife Heath (Dunham), Sarah Jo finds herself on a startling journey of self-exploration, education, and sexual healing.
Dunham says she wrote Sharp Stick to make audiences “confront inborn judgment and shame around female desire” both in life and cinema. “It’s a joke as old as celluloid that the minute we spot a sexually active girl in a horror movie, we know she’s going to die in a blood death,” Dunham says in a statement on the film. “She’s let someone touch her below the neck, and so she’s marked for murder. But there’s a more subtle crime we commit toward women on camera, where female characters who dare to take a journey sexually may not get full-on murdered, but they do endure another kind of torture — one more exquisite and subtle.”
She explains, “It’s a torture of judgment, of questioning, of self-doubt and loneliness and regret over choices that should ultimately just be part of the fabric of self-actualization in that same way it can be for their male counterparts. Interrogating these cinematic iniquities, I began to imagine a character whose sexual journey would be totally unique, unmarred by shame or self-hate or the projections of others. She would use sex not to destroy her body but to heal it from a history of medicalized trauma and cultural projection.”
Also starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Zola‘s Taylour Paige (who also co-produced the film), Luka Sabbat, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Scott Speedman as a porn star who pops in and out of the story, Sharp Stick hits theaters in New York City and Los Angeles on July 29, followed by a nationwide rollout on Aug. 5. The film will be available on digital platforms beginning Aug. 16.