Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2011. Ada Films. Screenplay by Lynn Shelton. Cinematography by Benjamin Kasulke. Produced by Steven Schardt. Music by Vinny Smith. Production Design by John Lavin. Film Editing by Nat Sanders. Dorian Awards 2012. Gotham Awards 2012. Independent Spirit Awards 2012. Toronto International Film Festival 2001.
A year after his brother’s death, Mark Duplass is not showing any healthy signs of processing either the trauma or his own aimless existence, which this insightful film’s superb opening scene, set at a memorial wake, amply displays. His best friend (Emily Blunt) insists that he take a few days at her father’s empty, upstate cabin and work things out, but when he gets there he finds himself unexpectedly cohabiting with Blunt’s sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) who has just broken up with her girlfriend. Too many tequila shots and the two of them have a drunken roll in the sack; the next day Blunt shows up and reveals to her sister that she has been in love with her best friend from years back, and things get messy from there. Lynn Shelton’s marvelous follow-up to Humpday is anything but messy in execution, however, a superbly acted and quietly controlled indie whose lengthy scenes of conversation never get tiresome, and whose relatively small arc (basically taking place over a couple of days and with very few separate scenes) never feels minor or stunted thanks to the rich chemistry between the performers. Blunt’s classy peacemaker is the perfect opposite to DeWitt’s emotionally frustrated sister, and neither they nor Duplass’ unfocused slacker ever overdo the characterizations to the point of caricature. The conclusion is a bit too tidy, but Shelton’s is aware of it enough to avoid indulging too much and deals with it as efficiently as possible.