Features and Columns

The Unexpected Tenderness of ‘Marcy Learns Something New’

Get schooled with this short film about a widow who attends a dominatrix workshop.
Marcy Learns Something New
By  · Published on April 24th, 2020

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Self-improved is a tantalizing carrot. Who wouldn’t want to be a happier, kinder, and more grounded version of themselves? Of course, where there’s a demand there’s a supply, even, and perhaps especially, when you’re peddling in something as personal and elusive as becoming a better person. The self-improvement industry can be predatory and disingenuous about how much it cares about its clients’ desire to be better. After all what a promise: that you can turn your life around in a Zumba class. And yet: exceptions to prove the rule. There are indeed workshops out there that can help folks find what they need and dip their toes into experiences that might not otherwise have crossed their path.

That’s the premise of Marcy Learns Something New, a clever and big-hearted short film starring SNL’s Rachel Dratch as a mild-mannered widow feeling run down by the usual cycle of self-improvement programs. She’s cast a wide net, from dance classes to yoga, but nothing’s really clicking. Then she signs up for a workshop for impact play: a BDSM practice in which one person consensually strikes another person. Marcy Learns Something New is boundlessly sweet and Dratch’s performance is welcoming and resolute, striking a sensitive chord between quiet melancholy and a magnetic resolve to push forward.

You can watch Marcy Learns Something New here:

Who made this?

Dream City is a New York-based production company comprised of a collective of filmmakers, whose collaborators include Karine Benzaria, Daisy Zhou, Will Mayo, and Julia Kennelly. You can browse Dream City’s video content on their Vimeo page and you can find Dream City’s official website here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).