If you appreciate small-scale films that favor character development over plot, you’re the target demographic for this likable—and, speaking honestly, forgettable—three-character piece from filmmaker Lynn Shelton (Humpday) and three talented actors, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and the man of the moment in the indie world, Mark Duplass.
Duplass plays a man who is still reeling from his brother’s death one year ago. At a memorial get-together in Seattle, the brother’s girlfriend (Blunt) encourages him to spend some “alone time” at her family’s house on a nearby island, where perhaps he can come out of the doldrums and get on with his life. Upon his arrival there he discovers that the house is occupied—by Blunt’s sister (DeWitt), who’s getting over a bad breakup. I will reveal no more.
If you don’t respond to these actors, or empathize with their situation, you’ll have little patience with the film. If, on the other hand, you develop a rooting interest for them to straighten out their tangled relationships, you’ll enjoy this modest chamber piece, a deft blending of comedy and drama. It may not be the most credible film of the year, but I found it diverting and enjoyable.
Unlike most filmmakers who encourage their actors to improvise, Shelton has given her cast (including Mike Birbiglia, who appears briefly but significantly in the opening scene) special credit as “creative contributors”. That’s a generous gesture that others might be inspired to follow.
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