Film Reviews

Mutual Appreciation Andrew Bujalski

Rating - 8/10

If you are able to sit and watch a full length feature in which nothing much happens and rather ordinary, self involved twenty-somethings sit around and talk about very little, then you will be richly rewarded by seeking out Mutual Appreciation. I'm not being ironic; this is a delightful, endearing and amusing film that accurately captures the, god forgive me, zeitgeist of the aught generation.

If you're not watching closely, you might miss the defining generation-ness of this quiet film. What seems to be what one reviewer called an "ironic character piece" actually is a dead on, dead serious portrayal of typical young American adults with nowhere to go and not much to do. Andrew Bujalski, who directed, wrote and stars as an unassuming teaching assistant named Lawrence, accurately captures the feeling of a truly lost generation, some with jobs, some without, some with relationships, some not, some with goals, some just drifting. When aspiring rock star, Alan (Justin Rice) meets a local DJ named Sara (Seung-Min Lee) who obviously wants to jump his bones, she asks him if has a girlfriend, to which he can only dumbly respond "Do I have a girlfriend?" He doesn't seem to know, nor does he show any signs of caring, apart from a drunken late night phone call to a girl he appears to like. But that's ok, because it turns out that Sara just wants to get off and isn't looking for a relationship. And actually, the aspiring rock star is asked if he wants to be a rock star and he can only answer "rock star? I don't know." Sara helps Alan find a drummer (her brother) who is in several different bands and agrees to sit in. This leads to a live appearance which goes fairly well and, when asked if they'll play together again they both shrug and display a "sure, why not" kind of enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Alan's friend Lawrence has a girlfriend Ellie (Rachel Clift), but they seem stuck in a rut and Ellie becomes more and more drawn to Alan. This leads to an awkward confrontation between Alan and Ellie that, typically, goes nowhere. And of course, when Lawrence is told about it he is less than thrilled but not very upset either, and they quickly put it behind them.

You get the idea? Basically none of these people really see the point in anything that's supposed to be in store for them; careerism, marriage, etc. What's underlying all this is a profound angst at the heart of our culture based on the unspoken knowledge that the American century has drawn to a close and now, instead of marching off with a sense of purpose to take on the world (in a good sense), many educated young adults face dimming prospects and a bankrupt consumer culture and figure, "what's the point?" Put simply, they just aren't buying the myths anymore and in the final analysis, people need more to believe in than Walmart, terrorism and American Idol. This movie should be a wake up call and would be, if anyone actually gave a damn.