Drinking Buddies

Drinking Buddies photo starrating-2andahalfstars.jpgThe Mumblecore film movement was kept alive in 2013 with the releases of Frances Ha, Computer Chess and this lo-fi utilitarian rom-com. Drinking Buddies is a four character study of two pairs in relationships. Director Joe Swanberg’s script captures the poetic rhythms of adults trapped in limbo between security and instability.

Chris and Kate are boyfriend and girlfriend. Ditto Luke and Jill. At a party, Chris invites Luke and Jill to join him and Kate for the weekend at his family’s cottage by the lake. Complications develop. One guess what those might be. Apparently writer director Joe Swanberg was inspired by 1969’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. That implies lots of risqué shenanigans but that is far from the case. Someone kisses someone else, but that is the extent of the indiscretions. Most of this observational drama is focused on pleasant unrehearsed conversations. The emotions feel genuine and the developing story is authentic. These are real people with real desires. However it all builds to much ado about nothing. I get it. This chronicle celebrates the journey, not the destination, but even the way the drama unfolds is pretty lethargic. I should film the laughs, tears, arguments and pain amongst my own friends. With the assistance of a great editor, I could probably fashion a more interesting saga. That’s not to say this is a terrible picture. It’s just insignificant.

Drinking Buddies is highlighted by some nuanced acting, but the whole production is underwhelming. Minimalism can be refreshing, but nothingness is distressing. Occasionally the dialogue sounds as if they’re making it all up as they go along. You keep hoping they’re going to say something insightful about relationships, but that revelation never arrives. It sounds genuine and awkward at different times intermittently. I suppose part of the curiosity here is seeing attractive actors like Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston look so utterly disheveled in appearance. They portray hazily defined hipsters that will make your own friends seem like scintillating conversationalists by comparison. Watching this gang have a drink or two is a bit of a provocation. Drinking Buddies suggests alcohol is a motivator to act on one’s true feelings. Watching the mundanity of these proceedings, it’s probably only a matter of time before you’ll start reaching for the bottle.

Advertisements

10 Responses to “Drinking Buddies”

  1. Good review Mark. Just being around these characters was enough of a good time for me. It felt like I was hanging around some of my own friends, minus them being as attractive as Anna Kendrick or Olivia Wilde. If only dreams came true.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. Too unfocused and meandering to suit my tastes for a movie. Felt like I was eavesdropping on their acting class while they were doing improvisational exercises.

  2. Nice review. I like Anna Kendrick as an actress, so I’ll eventually get around to this film.
    A lot of people have praised Olivia Wilde here, an actress I’m not very fond of. What did you think of her performance?

    PS – How would you rank the cast?

    • I like all of those actors but every single one of them has been better in other films. Olivia Wilde (Rush), Jake Johnson (Safety Not Guaranteed), Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), and Ron Livingston (Office Space).

  3. hmm..this is kind of what i had thought of this after reading several other, slightly more positive reviews. i think i will check this out but i have a fair caution now. 🙂 good review

  4. Um. not much to say, this was not very good.

  5. “I should film the laughs, tears, arguments and pain amongst my own friends. With the assistance of a great editor, I could probably fashion a more interesting saga.” Ouch haha.

    This one totally flew under the radar for me, so I missed it in theaters. That said, I’ve heard mixed reviews from glowing to meh like yours. I also tend to dislike meandering and a lack of significant direction in indie films, so I think I’d probably side with you on this. By the way, I loved this line, “They portray hazily defined hipsters that will make your own friends seem like scintillating conversationalists by comparison.” Hazily defined hipsters is a description that cracked me up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: