If it’s too much to expect a masterpiece from a second feature, one thing’s for sure: Andrew Bujalski is destined to make one.
Would-be indie king, Andrew Bujalski, returns with another piece of hipster musing, this time about the generational malaise of a group of twentysomethings who wonder if they’ll ever feel like real adults.
Justin Rice (real-life singer-guitarist with New York rockers Bishop Allen) plays Alan Peoples, singer-guitarist with indie-pop outfit The Bumblebees, who moves from Boston to Brooklyn to find success.
He stumbles in and out of parties, plays the odd gig, expresses his dislike of math-rock and shares a moment with his best friend’s girlfriend Ellie, all of it photographed in tastefully grungy black-and-white. Though Bujalski’s first film,
Funny Ha Ha, managed to find its own voice from the outset, Mutual Appreciation begins with a series of painfully inane conversations that scream of genre cliché. Moreover, the film struggles with its pacing, practically grinding to a halt during one of Alan’s trendo parties. But it’s also here, at its most painfully uncomfortable, that the film begins to come alive.
Indeed, patient viewers will be amply rewarded as Bujalski’s strengths come to the fore. He understands the awkwardness of Alan and Ellie’s unfulfilled flirtation, and shows his sensitivity in a scene of arm-stroking frottage that’s so palpable it hurts.
True, after his impressive debut, Mutual Appreciation feels like a minor setback for the director. But if it’s too much to expect a masterpiece from a second feature, one thing’s for sure: Andrew Bujalski is destined to make one.
A contender for Jim Jarmusch’s crown?
The inanity eventually makes way for an artful awkwardness.
Painfully real – but that’s a good thing.