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Mutual Appreciation (2005)

Cast: Justin Rice, Justin Rice, Rachel Clift, more...
Director: Andrew Bujalski, Andrew Bujalski
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Homevision
Genre: Comedies, Independent
Running Time: 108 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

Alan's (Justin Rice) band, the Bumblebees, has recently broken up after releasing an EP that got some attention. Alan has moved to Brooklyn, where he is trying to get solo gigs, and spending a lot of time with his old friend Lawrence (Andrew Bujalski, the film's writer/director) and Lawrence's girlfriend, Ellie (Rachel Clift). Alan quickly books a gig at hip Brooklyn club Northsix, and does a radio interview with Sara (Seung-Min Lee), during which he mentions that he doesn't even have a drummer. As luck would have it, Sara's brother, Dennis (Kevin Micka), is a drummer. Sara also makes it clear that she's attracted to Alan, which creates a problem when he decides he doesn't want to get involved with her. On the night of his gig, a friend of Alan's father with purported record-industry connections shows up, and invites Alan, Sara, and Dennis to his well-appointed apartment. Afterward, Alan drunkenly goes to a party where he was supposed to meet Lawrence and Ellie. As it turned out, they didn't make it, but a trio of women there (including one played by Kate Dollenmayer, who starred in Bujalski's debut feature, Funny Ha Ha), also drunk, have their own plans for him. Eventually, the unspoken attraction between Alan and Ellie comes to the fore. Mutual Appreciation was shot in black-and-white, and was a hit on the festival circuit before its theatrical release in September of 2006. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Furtive (and Funny) Emotional Collisions Guide Indie Trope by WimsWings April 12, 2007 - 5:42 PM PDT
5 out of 7 members found this review helpful
It really is incredible how accessible independent features have become, what with the seemingly exhaustive online rental options like GreenCine, as well as the more corporate-informed book-cafe-video places filling out their First Run wall with comparatively smaller films.

Now an independent intent (read: spirit) doesn't always translate into a better film, but when you begin to hear about one director from several different outlets, your curiousity is, of course, piqued. Writer/Director Andrew Bujalski's debut Funny Ha Ha became part of some(generational)critical razing - along with Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know and Mike Mills' Thumbsucker. I like all of those films and didn't understand how the indelicacy was misapprehended as pretense or the quirky character bobbles as rote "slacker" genre filler. While I would prefer to leave that term to the influential Linklater debut it belongs to - as the connotation has become both an easy grab and a lazy add-on - both Bujalski films follow that easy tread of relatability and natural speech patterns, as well as the emotional heft of sidelong glances in B&W.

I am somewhat older than the post-college inhabitants lolling on mattresses (no bedframes)and leaving what's left after the club to happenstance. Still, I recognize them, having once indulged in phone conversations about a friend's song titled "Malaise" and responding in earnest to a particular chord combination, in a certain song. Understandably outside of that purview, the patter of who is in what band conjoined with the appeal of finding your place apart from who you used to be, Mutual Appreciation might seem less substantial, exerting little lucid narrative pull. But that would be unfair, especially when you listen to the characters talk and watch their faces telegraph a response. The small ensemble manages to imbue the sometimes solipsism with genuine ardency. So what if the titular relationship doesn't require a close study to discern? Andrew Bujalski trusts our intelligence as much as his own by not reverting to the expected unspooling or denouement, imparting, instead, a physical realm to the final alteration. Lots of reviews have unfurled both John Cassavetes and Jim Jarmusch as comparisons, owing to both the capture of "small feelings" on screen and the intimacy of a colorless palette. A nice way to begin, but it will be even more interesting when Bujalski becomes the apt comparison for an equally intuitive successor.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.44)
36 Votes
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