Thursday, June 4, 2015

Movie Review: Results

Directed by: Andrew Bujalski.
Written by: Andrew Bujalski.
Starring: Guy Pearce (Trevor), Cobie Smulders (Kat), Kevin Corrigan (Danny), Giovanni Ribisi (Paul), Brooklyn Decker (Erin), Anthony Michael Hall (Grigory).

The characters in Results have a very hard time articulating their feelings to each other. They are, in many ways, stuck in a traditional romantic comedy – but while in most other films in the genre, I get annoyed when the movie insists on keeping the couple who are obviously perfect for each other apart for the entire movie – usually by artificial means that only a screenwriter could find plausible – but in Results, the fact that the characters have trouble expressing their feelings makes complete sense, as they struggle to find the words in all situations. This struggle is what connects Results to the previous films of writer/director Andrew Bujalski – of the so-called “Mumblecore” movement taking tentative steps towards the mainstream – casting known actors for the first time, and putting them in a more conventional plot. His characters always struggle to make themselves heard – to find the right words.

The film has three tremendously appealing performances at its core. Guy Pearce plays Trevor, the owner of a gym in Austin, Texas – in his mid-40s, who wants to become a kind of fitness guru. He has a vision for his gym – which he hopes to expand that is somewhat New Age-y, but not quite as ridiculous as some of them get. One of his trainers is Kat (Cobie Smulders), approaching 30, who takes a much harder edge with her clients that Trevor would like – pushing them perhaps a little too far if they do not meet their goals. The two of them have a kind of on again, off again casual affair. Into their lives appears Danny (Kevin Corrigan), a transplant for New York, who is recently divorced, and even more recently extremely wealthy – as his mother died, and left him her new husband’s wealth, which he didn’t even know about. Danny says he wants to get healthy – but he doesn’t seem overly committed. When Kat, who becomes his personal trainer, asks him to keep a food log – or simply take pictures of what he eats and send it to her, he takes pictures of the large pepperoni pizza he consumes – a slice at a time.

Trevor and Kat are very much like the protagonists in most romantic comedies – despite both being personal trainers, they are opposites in many ways (she mocks his belief system for example) – yet they have an undeniable attraction to, and chemistry with each other. They should be a good match. But while both try very hard to project confidence, they really lack it – and neither can quite come out and tell the other what they feel. Hell, for much of the movie, I doubt they even know.

Danny is the wild card in the movie – and it gives well known character actor Kevin Corrigan one of the best roles of his career. Danny is creepy, but sweet, well intentioned, but more than a little bit of an asshole. In short, he is a mess of contradictions, and both Trevor and Kat (separately) find themselves in and out of Danny’s good graces (and he theirs) several times throughout the movie – often with no explanation. Danny has money, and knows he can use it to manipulate people – which he shamelessly does, yet not quite in a mean way. Yes, Danny is perhaps a character that could not exist in real time, but he adds a necessary and strange definition to the movie, that would otherwise be lacking.

The movie is not altogether successful. Bujalski is a talented filmmaker, but he’s more at home in movies like his last film – Computer Chess – than he is making a romantic comedy with known actors. The result is at times rather awkward – a square peg, trying to fit into a round hole. Yet, Results is also a rather enjoyable – and original (or at least tries to be) take on the romantic comedy. It’s not a great film by any means – but an interesting one to be sure. I look forward to what Bujalski does next.

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