The common approach to post-coital screen nudity goes like this: Once the act has concluded the naughty bits go right under the sheets. Speaking presumptively, sex for most people doesn’t play like that, and distributor-turned-filmmaker Jeff Lipsky has been making a career correcting this curious movie-lie. Both of his chatterfests, Flanel Pajamas and now Twelve Thirty, feature lovers going casually clothesless. (Lipsky, refreshingly, offers equal opportunity nudity, be it gender or age.) Twelve Thirty takes it to another level: whether one remains starkers or redresses post-bonking serves as a subtle indicator of a character’s comfort or discomfort levels with the person they’ve just fucked (or, in one case, are fucking).
Having successfully charmed astute coworker Mel (Portia Reiners) into some afternoon delight, peppy-bordering-on-creepy college stud Jeff (Jonathan Goff) proceeds to parade about in his birthday suit. Mel, now skimpily dressed, suggests he put something on. At his request, she doffs her top, but only her top, and only reluctantly. This convo, in which Mel indirectly informs him that she is no longer, to borrow the phrase, that into him, is emblematic of Lipsky’s wordy but precise writing. Rebuffed, Jeff makes like the star of a Skinemax thriller and proceeds through the other women in Mel’s family, including morose virgin sister Maura (Mamie Gummer) and horny divorced Mom (Karen Young), who introduces herself to this stranger while rocking a see-through bra.
Consisting mostly of leisurely tete-à-tetes, the beguiling Twelve Thirty lets each scene unfold at a severely unhurried pace, but what it’s going for is not Mumblecore realism. The dialogue is noticeably written, yet Lipsky has found actors who can make it sound natural. (Even the token wild card character—Halley Feiffer’s bubbly Satanist—seems authentic, with Feiffer delivering each line with a believably self-conscious giggle.) But the writing is better in micro than macro. Once it comes time to bring these disparate shards together—and despite one Hail Mary pass too bizarre to work—Twelve Thirty goes from feeling winningly small to simply small.
"Twice Born" is one too many