Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 2008. Artists Public Domain. Screenplay by Azazel Jacobs. Cinematography by Tobias Datum. Produced by Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky. Music by Mandy Hoffman. Costume Design by Charlotte Greville. Film Editing by Darrin Navarro.
Azazel Jacobs casts Matt Boren as the son of his own real-life parents, New York artists Flo and Ken Jacobs, playing Mikey, who has just finished a visit with his folks and is ready to head back to the west coast to his wife and newborn baby. When he is bumped from his flight, he decides to come back to his folks instead of waiting at the airport, and they are happy for the extra time with him. For some reason the return home sees him reverting to a near-catatonic teenage state, sitting around his old room in his parents’ shockingly cluttered apartment (filmed in the Jacobs’ real abode, piled high with items and technologies that have informed their work) and reading old comic books and yearbooks. He gets in touch with an old crush from high school while avoiding calls from his increasingly concerned wife, who doesn’t understand why she hasn’t heard back from him about when he is going to return home. His parents become concerned with their son’s behaviour, particularly when it begins to be clear that he is refusing (or unable) to leave the apartment in a kind of agoraphobic meltdown. Shot on a very low budget and with grainy, flat photography, the film’s bland look and low-key performances actually contribute to its impact, it has a dry, dark humour that is helped by Flo’s subtle, unstudied performance, genuinely transmitting concern from her large, frantic eyes while her husband looks in on inexpressive confusion. We get a few moments of seeing the Jacobs’ at their own tasks, which add a layer of artistic expression to a film generally played out with spontaneous frankness, light in execution despite the heaviness of the themes being explored.