One of the films generating the most pre-festival buzz this year was The Unspeakable Act, which held its world premiere here on Thursday. Lead actress Tallie Medel plays the part of Jackie, a teenage girl with incestuous ambitions of having a romantic relationship with her older brother. We spoke with her about the role and what her real older brother thinks of this plot.
How did you get into a character’s mind who had such weird motivations as this?
I come frrm an improv background, and (director) Dan (Sallitt) and I have discussed now how this character has to remain mysterious, so not constructing an entire psychological background was important. To me, creating an entire background to a character doesn’t make a lot of sense. As an actor, you lend your voice and your body to a character and then it’s your job to bring that person to the stage or screen. They only have that chance when they live through you as that filter. Improvisation is a really important tool, and I was really happy to be able to use that, especially for a subject as taboo as this. It’s also important to know she is never going to get what she wants. Not in this movie. It never gets sexual with her brother. It’s someone who is sad and who has been spoiled and is very childish and allowed to think maybe she can have this life with her brother because she is a baby. She is selfish in a really particular sort of way and she is having her world cracked open.
Do you have a brother in real life?
I have an older brother who really thinks it is funny that I did this movie. He is a comedy nerd, I’m a comedian, and both of us think that incest jokes are the funniest thing in the world, so he is all about me doing this movie. He hasn’t seen it though. Some of the feedback we got last night is that it is not a disturbing movie. You do not see a brother and a sister doing things they should not be doing. You are just watching them have a lot of conversations together and you feel sad for them as much as anything else.
The film screens again today at 9:30pm.