September 05, 2013

MOVIES: Drinking Buddies (Joe Swanberg, 2013)

Over the last decade, Swanberg has made about a dozen micro-budget movies, generally working with unknown actors (some of whom, most notably Greta Gerwig, have gone on to bigger things). This is his first film with a cast of recognizable actors, and it's the first of his films that I've seen. I'm left a bit baffled as to what all the fuss is about.

Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde are Luke and Kate, co-workers at a micro-brewery who've been attracted to one another for years but have never done anything about it. Jake lives with his girlfriend, Jill (Anna Kendrick), and their relationship is at the point where they have a discussion every few months in which they reassure one another that they do want to get married some day, but they never quite get around to making concrete plans. Kate's dating Chris (Ron Livingston), who doesn't quite fit in with her circle of friends.

They're all likable enough characters, despite their annoying-hipster tendencies, but none of them held my attention, and as Swanberg follows them through a series of social encounters -- a cocktail party at the brewery, a weekend at Chris's lakeside cabin, a weekend in which Luke helps Kate move -- I kept thinking, "OK, surely now is the moment when something interesting is actually going to happen," and it never actually did. The most significant event, a breakup of one of the couples, happens off screen, and we only get one tiny scene dealing with the fallout.

Maybe it's a generational thing. Perhaps if I were a 30-ish guy, clinging desperately to youth and cool-ness, I would find the minor problems of these four more interesting. But as it is, the movie felt like 90 minutes of aimless noodling about people who don't have the self-awareness or the initiative to do any of the things that might actually make them happy.

No comments: