Film review: Mutual Appreciation

Mutual Appreciation
[independent production]

STARRING Justin Rice, Rachel Clift, Seung-Min Lee, Andrew Bujalski
WRITTEN BY Andrew Bujalski
PRODUCED BY Morgan Faust, Dia Sokol, Ethan Vogt
DIRECTED BY Andrew Bujalski

SHOT BY Matthias Grunsky
EDITED BY Andrew Bujalski
MUSIC BY Justin Rice, Kevin Micka, Bishop Allen, Omzo, Matt & Mossy, The Common Cold, Brandon Patton
DISTRIBUTED BY Goodbye Cruel Releasing

Screened on 2005-10-17

Alan is a calm young man who arrives in New York and reunites with old friend Lawrence, and Lawrence’s girlfriend Ellie.  While lamely trying to start a band he gradually gets closer to Ellie, until they reveal to one another that there is something between them.  The three characters are so kind and understanding that drama becomes almost impossible.  Yet the story’s drama is so sparse and carefully placed that when tension finally is introduced, there is the feeling that a great deal is at stake, surprisingly gleaned from scenes of long calm.  Appreciation functions as a nice reminder of the simplicity that is always in front of us.

Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha) writes, directs, edits, and stars with comforting humility and care.  The rest of the cast is comprised of non-actors, friends of Bujalski’s, and function swimmingly.  There is no score, and feels entirely appropriate that way.  No complaints in the technical department.  As for the story – it’s a deep sigh, relaxing onto a bed, or looking at the world through a sheet of wax paper.  The words that come to mind when I think of this film and its characters are “Gentle, delicate, sensitive.”  Appreciation may function best as a training video for 18-25 year olds, shepparding them into the world of politics between groups of close friends with the gentle hand of calm understanding.  It presents a world in which the truth doesn’t hurt all that bad when it really does set you free.

written by David Ashley