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  • Writer's pictureDana Piccoli

Outfest 2020: Teenage angst and biting humor anchor the excellent "Tahara"

CW: suicide

Sometimes it just takes one moment, one kiss, one touch of the hand. That's exactly what Carrie Lowstein's (a fabulous Madeline Grey Defreece) queer awakening is like. That is happening at a funeral is, well, less than ideal. Deliciously directed by Olivia Peace, Tahara takes place at the funeral for classmate Samantha Goldstein, who committed suicide. Carrie attends with her best friend, Hannah Rosen (Rachel Sennott), who is much more focused on her crush Tristan Leibowitz. Where Carrie is thoughtful and quiet, Hannah is callous and self-focused. After the funeral, the teens along with some of their classmates attend a grief session. In the bathroom beforehand, Hannah asks a reluctant Carrie to kiss her to prove that she's a good kisser. (By the way, all straight girls who do this should be fined $500) The kiss does nothing for Hannah other than boosting her ego, but Carrie is blown away.

The teenage politics and ever-changing motives give Tahara its bite. When Carrie spends her session break vaping with mean girl Elaina Cohen (Shlomit Azoulay), the tenuous bond between her and Hannah begins to fray. Seats are moved, friendships are gained and lost in the blink of an eye, hormones run wild. Carrie reaches her breaking point when Hannah pulls a stunt that both offends and crushes Carrie. Not only that but Hannah's connection to the late Samantha, who was rumored to be a lesbian, and her actions before Samantha's suicide, are cruel by any measure.

There's not a weak link in this young cast, and Olivia Peace makes magic out of Jess Zeidman's funny and devastating script. Definitely one for your must-see Outfest list.

Tahara is playing now through August 25th on Outfest.

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