Sam and Sally's Dilemma

Bruce Von Stiers

A few years ago, I reviewed the thriller film Innuendo. It was written, produced, directed and starred Saara Lamberg. Both before and after that film, Saara has had a lot of experience on both sides of the camera.

Saara has a new film. The title of the film is Westermarck Effect. It is a drama with a definite twist on romance.

In this film, Saara plays Sally. We meet Sally as she is in a bar, watching a band. She seems enthralled with the band's leader, Sam. He is a young man, nice looking and so forth. But before we even meet Sally, the film shows Sam in a bathroom having sex with a woman.

Sam and Sally are attracted to each other. But Sally is a lot older than Sam. And the reason Sally was at the bar in the first place is she wanted to get a look at Sam. It seems that twenty years ago Sally had a baby and had given him up for adoption. Sam was that baby.

The film takes Sally and Sam through a strange and kind of obsessive courtship. He finds out she's his real mother but doesn't care. Sally doesn't seem to want that kind of relationship with Sam, but somehow she can't stop herself.

Sam had a girlfriend, Mint, at the start of the film. She was already jealous of other women giving attention to Sam. And after Sam dumps her for Sally, Mint seemingly takes a bit of revenge. Another character in the film is Miranda, Sam's bandmate and someone who's looked after Sam. Miranda's gimmick for the band is that he's a drag queen.

The film's title is actually a psychological hypothesis. The short version of the hypothesis is that siblings who are around each other as babies or young children, repel against any sexual attraction to each other later in life. But that doesn't happen in this film. Sam is attracted sexually to Sally. And she to him. Sally is conflicted about the romantic and sexual relationship that is building between her and Sam, but somehow is too weak to stop it.

Jayden Denke played Sam. He has been in two other feature films and a few short films. Kevin Dee is Miranda. He's been seen in shows such as Jack Irish and Saara's film Innuendo. Mariah Mannae was Sam's girlfriend Mint. On the show Rostered On, she had played the girlfriend of a recurring character.

Other actors who appeared in the film included Albert Goikhman as Sally's father and Brendan Bacon as the bar owner. Andy Hazel, David Farrington, Kelly Neilsen and Samantha Greenwood all have minor roles in the film.

The cinematographer for the film was Michael Liporata. His credits include camera work on several short and feature films. He was the cinematographer for Saara's film Inuendo.

The subject matter of the film was something that I hadn't given a lot of thought to. Most incestual relationships that I'd read about or seen in films and news reports dealt with fathers and daughters. But this film went the opposite direction with a mother and son incestual relationship.

The film was a love story but one that in normal circumstances would never have happened. Sam was looking for something to hold onto and Sally, well, she was kind of that way too. But the relationship that came out of those longings is illegal in most areas and condemnable in just about every societal situation.

The film seemed a bit uneven at times, but I think that's how Saara wanted It to be. The acting was very good and the filming was smoothly done, with steady camera shots, both close up and distance.

By the end of the film, I wasn't sure if I wanted to cheer on Sally and Sam or condemn them. This is definitely a film that will make you ponder. I did like the film, even though I wasn't completely comfortable with the subject matter. It is a good film to spotlight just how broken some people are and what might occur if they find a bit of happiness.

The film has gotten enough attention that it is being featured at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Just prior to writing the prior sentence, I learned that all of the showings of the film at the festival have been sold out.

The Westermarck Effect will have an official release date sometime in the near future. With all of the attention it's been given at Cannes, it will probably be released soon.

To find out more about The Westermarck Effect, visit the film's Facebook page at

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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers