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Tanya Khoury: Reassuringly real
August 30, 2013
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Aside from the clutter of blockbuster hits I opted for an indie flick, written and directed by Joe Swanberg, whom I had seen a couple of low budget films for. I wasn’t really expecting much out of the film; I just liked the cast and was curious to see where he would go with this one.  A little more budget and a lot more freedom for the actors to improvise was enough for me to check out what this movie was all about. I had only heard about it through the Seattle Film Festival so I did not really expect there to be any huge hype around it in-between all the Marvel characters around the cinemas here.

The story is simple; it’s about two friends who work in a brewery and they just happen to be a man and a woman. The premise is set from the start and the theme is clear – the line between friendships and romantic relationships, given that both those friends happen to be in relationships outside their workplace.

Jake Johnson plays Luke, Kate’s (Olivia Wilde) best friend and co-worker, whilst Anna Kendrick plays Luke’s long-term girlfriend Jill alongside Chris (Ron Livingston), Kate’s current boyfriend. That’s pretty much it, really, the dynamics of the film are simple and there is a tonne of natural dialogues as though the filmmaker placed a camera in those exact settings without it all being made up to make a movie.

Ninety minutes for you to decide where the lines are set between friendships and relationships, and how platonic is really platonic. This is what I found intriguing about this particular film. I enjoyed its simplicity; there was nothing cheesy about it, and there was no ‘will he get the girl in the end’ moment or anything unrealistic like that at all. Instead, it was about people placing trust in one another and feelings surfacing and resurfacing, whether those should be there or not is another question that the filmmaker swiftly poses throughout the film. There are no surprises, it is as predictable as it should be and that is where it is left off. There are no hidden agendas around where the filmmaker tried to take his audience. It’s a romcom without the excessive cheddar.

The chemistry between the cast is perfect and just what you need from that sort of story. Because there is a lot of dialogue that focuses on their daily lives it helps that the actors are portrayed in a natural environment. The writing (though apparently a lot of it is improvised by the cast) gels very well with the pace of the movie.

I doubt that this film will make any splashes at the box office, nor will it set the pace for upcoming films in the same genre, as most audiences prefer the ‘getting the girl, happy couple’ moments in the end. Let me state though, there is nothing sad or depressing in the film; it just is a lot more real than your usual films of this genre, and I enjoyed it because of that. It didn’t hurt that I like Johnson just a little more than your average Joe, it made for a good film that will be sadly lost between all the audience-favourite giants currently playing out there. Kudos for the actors for getting in on the project though, I enjoyed it, and maybe other indie lovers will, too. A much improved effort from the director in this film and a deserved 6.5/10 is what I would rate it.

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