Mutual Appreciation

"Extraordinary"

Mutual Appreciation Review


Pretty much everything you've heard about Andrew Bujalski is true. His films (only a duo so far) are artsy and often damn proud of the fact. There isn't a plot to really speak of, and most of the film is made up of long, neurotic jabbering that consists mainly of stutters and unamiable "uhs" and "ums." His style can best be described as the creepy-calm offspring of Eric Rohmer and John Cassavetes, two artists who are already shackled to the word pretentious. All these things are within the honest realm of opinion, but it's a good thing.

Allan (indie-girl wet-dream Justin Rice) has just landed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and things are good for the most part. He's the leader of an indie rock band called The Bumblebees, although he is the only member still performing. He has a coveted gig at the trendier-than-thou Northsix club that is being promoted by Sara (Seung-Min Lee), a cute radio DJ who has designs on Allan. Allan, however, spends most of his time with his best friends Ellie and Lawrence (Rachel Clift and Bujalski himself, respectively), a couple who have lived in Brooklyn for well over a year. Ellie and Allan tiptoe around their minefield of flirtations, but as Allan's interest in Sara diminishes, his longings become a bit more apparent.

Bujalski made one hell of a name for himself last year when he dropped Funny Ha Ha, a lethal anti-comedy (it's irony, get it?) that spent nearly the entire film making the audience squirm from awkward discomfort. Think Noah Baumbach's Kicking and Screaming with fewer one-liners and more uncomfortable pauses.

The talent Bujalski has is in his deadpan honesty and often disturbingly blunt character study. There are scenes that go on for so long (the "party" scene after Allan's gig) that you want to reach through the screen and strangle the characters. We know these people who drag you into the kitchen and tell you that they can't date you and can't even make out with you at 2 in the AM, more than likely because we are these people. Where post-graduation malaise would be often represented by trying to figure out how to translate college life into real life, the life of Bujalski's characters seem to not even acknowledge their past, even when confronted with it.

In it's most complex scenes, often having to do with Ellie and Allan in the film's more anti-textual second half, the characters show a fumbling sort of charm, but not without still feeling a bit listless and grating. While lying on a bed, Ellie tells Allan, quite matter-of-factly, "Reality would be nice to talk about." That line, surely destined for away messages and MySpace profiles throughout the country, sums up the world that Bujalski has captured: life, on the tip of your tongue, but not quite landing on the taste buds. Even in tender scenes (the reaffirmation of Ellie and Lawrence's relationship), Bujalski's world seems terribly allergic to anything that might be misconstrued as cordial. For that, we can only sit and stew in self-reflection. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new awkward.

The feeling is mutual, we're sure.



Mutual Appreciation

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th May 2007

Budget: $500 thousand

Distributed by: Goodbye Cruel World

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 45 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrew Bujalski

Producer: Morgan Faust, Ethan Vogt, Dia Sokol

Starring: Justin Rice as Alan, Rachel Clift as Ellie

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