Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2009. Magnolia Pictures, Seashel Pictures. Screenplay by Lynn Shelton. Cinematography by Benjamin Kasulke. Produced by Lynn Shelton. Music by Vinny Smith. Production Design by Jasminka Vukcevic. Film Editing by Nat Sanders. Independent Spirit Awards 2009. National Board of Review Awards 2009.
Straight-laced Mark Duplass is happily married to Alycia Delmore when their doorbell rings in the middle of the night and college friend Joshua Leonard enters like an immature gale storm. A rogue who has been travelling the world and refuses to subscribe to the white picket fence lifestyle, Leonard brings memories of the past with him that threaten the balance of Duplass’s connection to his wife despite her patience and understanding. One night at a party with charmingly ridiculous bohemian friends, a conversation about Dan Savage’s art-porn festival “Hump Fest” leads to a most amusing dare: Leonard announces that he will enter the festival with a tape of him and Duplass, providing the unique sight of hetero men engaging in homo sex (he apparently doesn’t know what straight guys do for money in gay porn). The preparation for this big event leads to some pretty interesting tension between the guys which only reaches far more hilarious levels when Delmore finds out about it. Lynn Shelton’s breakthrough film as director is a humorous exploration of the strange, almost homoerotic obsession that men have with each other’s sexual prowess taken to the funniest possible end point. When later adapted by the French (as Do Not Disturb), and in the hands of so terrified misogynist as Yvan Attal, the woman in this triangle goes from Delmore’s affable and eager to understand wife to a seething, supermodel shrew, while the easy camaraderie pictured here between the guys later becomes, in Attal’s version, bullish ego contests. Shelton often makes films about how healthy communication between people doesn’t really mean we can ever understand each other, here featuring wonderfully capricious storytelling which thankfully goes into no unnecessary explanations and instead relies on its cast members’ healthy charisma.