After a couple of gimmicky transgressive comedies (Humpday and Your Sister's Sister), writer-director Lynn Shelton takes a more observant approach this time. So even if, as before, the script never quite fills in the gaps in the story, it at least knowingly recreates relational awkwardness in a remarkably sensitive way. And the characters are almost eerily easy to identify with.
The centre of the story is Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), who is debating whether she should move in with her rebound boyfriend (Scoot McNairy). This sparks her to think about her whole life, and she ends up recoiling at the idea of touching human flesh. Which is a problem since she's a massage therapist. By contrast, her dentist brother Paul (Josh Pais) believes he might have the ability to heal his patients, so he consults Abby's reiki-practitioner colleague (Alison Janney) for advice. Meanwhile, Paul's daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) is terrified to tell her father that she hates working as his assistant. And she's even more afraid to admit that she has a crush on her aunt's boyfriend.
Along the way, Abby, Paul and Jenny are all pushed into a turning point in their lives by an unexpected change in circumstances, which of course feels a bit contrived. But the film's real strength is in the messy connection between family members who have issues with themselves and each other, all of which are expressed through clumsy conversations and uncomfortable physicality. As insecure siblings, DeWitt and Pais are terrific in complex roles that draw on the actors' nervous energy. But only Pais and McNairy are genuinely likeable: men who haven't a clue what to do. By contrast, the always terrific Page and Janney have much less-developed roles.
This is a movie constructed with tentative conversations in which people infuriatingly never quite say what they mean to say. Or what they need to say. If any of these people could communicate properly, their existential crises would vanish in a flash. And as Shelton tries to tie everything up in a far-too-tidy package, it's the small details that linger. And the fact that solutions almost always come when we least expect them.
Run time: 89 mins
In Theaters: Saturday 1st March 2014
Box Office USA: $36.0k
Box Office Worldwide: $35 thousand
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
Production compaines: Magnolia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 36
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Lynn Shelton
Producer: Steven Schardt
Screenwriter: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Ellen Page as Jenny, Rosemarie DeWitt as Abby, Scoot McNairy as Jesse, Allison Janney as Bronwyn, Ron Livingston as Adrian, Josh Pais as Paul, Alycia Delmore as Ellen, Ethel R. Deans as Mrs. Elvsted, Shannon Kipp as Susan, Tomo Nakayama as Henry
Also starring: Lynn Shelton
As with his Formula One documentary Senna, filmmaker Asaf Kapadia cleverly uses archival footage to...
This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt...
Resisting the temptation to capitalise on the camp value of these characters, Channing Tatum and...
Wacky enough to make us smile but never laugh out loud, this screwball comedy harks...
A relentless onslaught of violent action, this movie is notable mainly because there's a woman...
First-time feature filmmaker John Maclean takes a strikingly original approach to the Western, creating a...
Despite this being a film about Sherlock Holmes, the fact that it's not much of...
Both shameless and shamelessly entertaining, this relentlessly boyish movie carries on exactly as the TV...