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Mutual Appreciation (Unrated)





Release Date: September 1st, 2006 (Cinema Village) by Goodbye Cruel Releasing.
The Cast: Justin Rice, Rachel Clift, Andrew Bujalski, Seung-Min Lee, Kevin Micka, Bill Morrison, Pamela Corkey, Mary Varn, Tamara Lezeeckyj.
Directed by Andrew Bujalski.

BASIC PREMISE: Alan (Rice), a musician, looks for a drummer for an upcoming gig while flirting with Sara (Lee) and his best friendís girlfriend, Ellie (Clift).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Mutual Appreciation has a slim plot yet still manages to be thoroughly engaging thanks to a very natural script with interesting, believable characters. Justin Rice plays Alan, a rock and roll musician who recently broke up with his band and looks for a drummer in New York City. He meets and briefly makes out with Sara whose brother happens to be a drummer. Basically, the rest of the film follows him as he interacts with his best friend, Lawrence (Bujalski) and Lawrenceís girlfriend, Ellie. In a somewhat funny scene, he ends up a small party with a few girls who make him wear a wig and make fun of his bad body-odor. Eventually, Alan and Ellie consider having a fling with one another while Lawrence is away. Why? Because Ellie just wants to know what itís like to kiss other guys besides her current boyfriend and Alan happens to be at the top of her list. Writer/director Andrew Bujalski, by all means, has a knack for writing colloquial dialogue with all the expected awkward pauses, just like in his wonderful first film, Funny Ha Ha. Much of the subtle humor comes from the smart dialogue rather than shock value. Also, none of the characters are attractive in the Hollywood way, but thatís ironically what makes them so believable and emphasizes on something which defines them even more: their personalities. Bujalski keeps you engrossed by letting every scene breathe with life which makes you feel as if you were a voyeur into the lives of these memorable characters. He shoots in 16mm black and white film stock which initially seems a bit pretentious, but ultimately reflects the overall calmness of this refreshingly simple, beautifully-written film.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Itís uplifting just to watch the characters interact in a mature, intelligent and respectful way without yelling at one anotherói.e. like in The Break Up. The simple, unconventionally warm ending gives leaves you feeling satisfied while wishing the film would never end.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Absolutely none.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0

IN A NUTSHELL: Smart, funny and refreshing. A true indie gem.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)


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