Tuesday, August 04, 2009

MIFF 2009 Diary Part the Eighth


(Lynn Shelton, 2009)

This indie comedy written and directed by Lynn Shelton explores a reunion between two former best friends from college when they reunite ten years later.

Ben (Mark Duplass) has married and settled down. He and his wife Anna (Alycia Delmore) are trying for a baby, so far unsuccessfully. The quiet order of their lives is interrupted late one night by the unexpected arrival of Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a hard drinking, fast living man still clinging to his shiftless collegiate lifestyle.

Within 24 hours Andrew has led Ben off the straight and narrow. At a drunken party, the pair hear about a local porn film festival, and drunkenly decide to enter by making a film in which they have sex with each other. It will, Andrew declares, be “beyond gay”; it will be porn as art.

When they sober up, instead of recognising what a bad idea this is, the two men persist with the plan; Andrew because he needs to prove that he really is a wild bohemian rather than the failure he fears himself to be; and Ben because he needs to prove to Andrew that his life isn’t as dull as it looks.

What could have been a sharply observed comedy-drama about two straight male friends trying to express their love for each other the only way they know how, the way society has conditioned them to – sexually – became dull and disappointing due to Shelton’s insistence on extended takes and improvised dialogue.

Neither Ben or Andrew are especially well-developed characters, and so there is little about them to engage or interest the audience; nor is there great chemistry between the two. Their meandering conversations lack drama and focus, and a hokey attempt to introduce conflict between them using a basketball game as a narrative device rings extremely false.

Humpday aims to be a good-natured exploration of male friendships. It fails.

Rating: Two stars


Evol Kween said...

I actually really enjoyed this film. I thought the improvised dialogue added to the humour and I liked both characters. I thought it was clever to explore concepts of the male ego and male 'one-upmanship' through a topic that is ultimately taboo for straight guys. For me, the 'climax' was way too drawn out, and let the film down over all.

richardwatts said...

You're not alone in liking this one, Evol - several people I know also enjoyed it. That said, the friend I watched it with also hated it. Horses for courses, I guess... :-)

walypala said...

Yeah, horses for courses. And any horse on the "I liked it" course should be humanely put down!

Just kidding. Sort of...

I am astounded that people are taking to this film. I didn't think it had anything decent to say about anything. It was an underdeveloped, impromptu evening with pretentious, self-important middle class Americans.

It was far too much for this pretentious, self-important middle class Australian to endure.

I am going to ride my "I detested it" horse to see something decent like Unmade Beds.

Hi ho Silver!