Mutual Appreciation

Genre: Drama; Starring: Andrew Bujalski, Justin Rice, Rachel Clift; Director: Andrew Bujalski; Author: Andrew Bujalski; Runtime (in minutes): 109; MPAA Rating: Unrated; Distributor: Goodbye Cruel Releasing

As modest as a mash note scrawled by a very shy English major onto a bar napkin, Funny Ha Ha, the first movie written and directed by Andrew Bujalski, was hailed as the fresh voice of a generation. If you see his follow-up, the charming if a wee-bit-too-wee Mutual Appreciation, you’ll know why. Bujalski’s characters still talk in spilled ironic fragments, rationalizing their tiniest impulses (for a kiss, a joke, a beer), turning every thought, every moment, into a coyly halting ”creative” observation. This time, though, Bujalski works in streaky black and white, looking back all the more to Cassavetes and the Left Bank conversational epic The Mother and the Whore. The central figure, Alan (Justin Rice), with his bed head and his grin of shy vanity, is an aspiring indie rocker, which means that he has a ”band” that consists of whomever he happens to be jamming with that week, at gigs attended mostly by his friends. In Brooklyn, Alan is staying with an old buddy, Lawrence (played by Bujalski), who’s like Gary Dell’Abate as a young computer geek, and he also has a quasi-flirtation going with Lawrence’s girlfiend, Ellie (Rachel Clift), who treats her romantic desires as an inconvenience, a disruption of the nervous, stuttery we’re-all-boho-comrades-here style she wears like armor. If this is the sound of a new generation, then it may be the first generation cautious enough to embrace friendship as mightier than love.

Originally posted August 30 2006 — 12:00 AM EDT

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