Mutual Appreciation (R)

Comedy 109 September 1, 2006
By J.hoberman
Andrew Bujalski's first feature, Funny Ha Ha, managed to be both charmingly lackadaisical and annoyingly smug; Mutual Appreciation, which the writer-director shot in grainy black-and-white in hipster Brooklyn is even more so. His characters don't suggest types so much as behavioral nebulae whose interactions are soft, tentative collisions (or, perhaps, mutual appreciations). Bujalski turns a John Cassavetes camera on an Eric Rohmer talkfest, except that the camera is more relaxed and the actors less animated. Youth-film protagonists typically act as if they're living in a movie. Bujalski's appear to be trapped between parentheses. More fascinating than his borderline tiresome characters is Bujalski's knack for constructing narrative and characterization out of a smartly edited array of seemingly improvised performances and an apparently aimless succession of uninflected moments. As filmmaking, Mutual Appreciation is too stringent to be self-indulgent. Disdaining glamour, Bujalski thrives on the modest truth of clumsy mishaps and incoherent riffs. His characters are certain mainly in their uncertainty. His movies feel most authentic when his actors seem most acutely aware of their inauthenticity.
Andrew Bujalski Justin Rice, Rachel Clift, Andrew Bujalski, Seung-Min Lee, Pamela Corkey, Kevin Micka, Ralph Tyler, Peter Pentz, Bill Morrison, Tamara Luzeckyj Andrew Bujalski Morgan Faust, Dia Sokol, Ethan Vogt Goodbye Cruel World

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