Back in 2011, before Jill Soloway won Emmys and Golden Globes for her groundbreaking show Transparent, she made a little short film that made its way to the Sundance Film Festival. Though Soloway had worked on shows like Six Feet Under and United States of Tara, at the time she had few directing credits. Una Hora Por Favora provided an opportunity for Soloway to flex her production muscles and give us a snippet of what would eventually become the style and look of her hit series. Like all of her work, it is also imbued with perceptive observations on culture, gender, and sexuality, heralding the coming of Soloway’s colorful and transgressive Americana.
In Una Hora Por Favora, Elissa (Michaela Watkins) hits the illegal immigrant LA street market and picks up the husky Arturo (Wilmer Valderrama), a day laborer she hires for an hour. Valderrama is perfectly cast as the soccer-obsessed handyman and Watkins nicely plays a lonely middle-class Jewish woman looking for an easy kind of love. Once Arturo fixes Elissa’s showerhead, she invites him to watch some reality TV and crosses the invisible class and cultural line that garishly lies between them, by sloppily draping her leg over his. The hour Elissa originally intended turns into many.
The film relies lightly on stereotypes for both characters and mainly does so to turn them on their head. Instead of portraying Valderrama as an over-sexed Latino, trying to crawl under the skirts of guileless patronas, it’s Watkins’ Elissa who is presented as a Jewish huntress looking to efficiently address various personal needs. This is perhaps the most striking element of the film, as Soloway shamelessly puts female sexual curiosity and desire front and center. Elissa is an aurora borealis moved by her libido to make decisions women everywhere have excused with alcohol and/or buried under clandestine email accounts for fear of judgment. Perhaps out of fetish or as a strike against social inequity, Elissa chooses to welcome the slighted and over-worked immigrant community into her boudoir.
So, to womyn everywhere – here’s to your next salacious sexual encounter. May you boldly come and go as you please.