Mutual Appreciation

Boston-based actor-director Andrew Bujalski's follow-up to his acclaimed debut, FUNNY HA-HA (2003), is a marvelous, deceptively simple accomplishment shot on grainy 16mm film and featuring a cast of mostly nonprofessional actors delivering loosely written dialogue. Scruffy, tousle-haired pop musician Alan (Justin Rice, frontman of the Brooklyn band Bishop...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Boston-based actor-director Andrew Bujalski's follow-up to his acclaimed debut, FUNNY HA-HA (2003), is a marvelous, deceptively simple accomplishment shot on grainy 16mm film and featuring a cast of mostly nonprofessional actors delivering loosely written dialogue. Scruffy, tousle-haired pop musician Alan (Justin Rice, frontman of the Brooklyn band Bishop Allen) made something of a splash in indie circles with the EP he recorded with his band, The Bumblebees. But that's all in the past. The Bumblebees are "not available" (read: they're history) and Alan has left Beantown for the Big Apple in hopes of furthering his career. Alan is crashing at a friend's girlfriend's apartment and has promised his accountant father, who's subsidizing the big move, that he'll make finding a day job a priority. But he's actually hanging out with his best friend, college-level teaching assistant Lawrence (Bujalski) and Lawrence's longtime girlfriend, Ellie (Rachel Clift), a news editor at a local paper, while looking for a drummer willing to learn his crunchy pop songs in time for a scheduled gig at Williamsburg hotspot the Northsix. College radio DJ Sara (Seung-Min Lee) suggests he hook up with her brother, Dennis (Kevin Micka), and has a pretty clear ulterior motive: She has a fan-girl crush on Alan, even though he shows no sign of reciprocating her feelings. The night of the gig, Alan meets Walter (DECASIA filmmaker Bill Morrison), a client of his father's who happens to be a pretty big wheel at a record label, and after the show Walter invites Alan, Dennis and Sara back to his apartment for what turns out to be a drunken odyssey that ends with Alan in eyeshadow and a dress. Alan's relationship with Lawrence, meanwhile, undergoes a subtle shift when Ellie admits she's attracted to him. Falling somewhere between the real-life shagginess of Richard Linklater's SLACKER and the educated sophistication of Whit Stillman's THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO, the film looks and sounds as if it were casually shot in a friend's apartment (which it probably was) and has all the real-life authenticity of a documentary; its depiction of young people in transition — once again, Bujalski's subjects are the educated working poor who find themselves caught in the postcollegiate morass that separates youth from adulthood — carries a rush that has rarely been felt in a movie since the early New Wave. Much has been made of Bujalski's ability to capture all the inarticulateness of his generation, but his characters are actually smart and sharp-witted, even if that wit comes couched in uncertain "ums" and "ahs" and long, uncomfortable silences.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Boston-based actor-director Andrew Bujalski's follow-up to his acclaimed debut, FUNNY HA-HA (2003), is a marvelous, deceptively simple accomplishment shot on grainy 16mm film and featuring a cast of mostly nonprofessional actors delivering loosely written… (more)

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