Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA/Chile, 2015. Fabula, Funny Balloons, Versatile, Killer Films. Screenplay by Sebastián Silva. Cinematography by Sergio Armstrong. Produced by Charlie Dibe, David Hinojosa, Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain, Julia Oh. Music by Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans. Production Design by Naomi Munro. Costume Design by Mark Grattan. Film Editing by Sofia Subercaseaux. Podcasts: Bad Gay Movies
Sebastian Silva directs and stars as a New York City artist who is living with his boyfriend (Tunde Adebimpe) and trying to make a baby with his best friend (Kristen Wiig). The plan is for the three of them to become parents, but the process is held up by medical issues (his sperm count is low) that they try to deal with by asking Adebimpe to provide the baby batter instead. He is hesitant about becoming the actual father, while on the street outside their house wanders a mentally unstable neighbour (Reg E. Cathey) who harasses pedestrians on the street and works his loud leaf-blower at odd hours of the morning. The idea is that we are seeing the friction of Brooklyn gentrification and the entitlement that its moneyed artists bring, but the theme is never developed effectively thanks to weak characterizations and the fact that the main characters aren’t all that ritzy or entitled. The suggestion that Cathey’s behaviour contributes to Silva’s issues dealing with his own emotional frustration is discussed more than it is proven, while the art he is working on, video explorations of his thoughts about babies, is just plain bad. This is the kind of social realist, hipster New York lens-flare cinema that has inherited the mantle of the mumblecore era, and there are scenes of watching people hang out and have natural conversations that are technically impressive (since a lot of the chemistry is good and the dialogue is often very spontaneous) but overall it is rarely interesting (I don’t mind their lives but I don’t care about them). Almost as if sensing an audience’s member’s frustration with its aimlessness, the film kicks itself into a kind of violent psychological thriller in the last third that feels totally out of place, more of a scapegoat than a plot twist. Mark Margolis has some great moments as a concerned neighbour.