Wednesday, June 25, 2014

OCFF 2014 Review: LISTEN UP, PHILLIP- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Alex Ross Perry
Written by Alex Ross Perry
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Elizabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, and Eric Bogosian.
Synopsis: A young author is struggling with life when his second book is about to be published.

Watching movies and/or TV shows about quarter-life crises can be somewhat irritating. Usually the character going through said crisis is misanthropic and a bundle of negativity. But maybe they're irritating because it's so relatable. LISTEN UP, PHILIP follows a semi-successful author looking to publish his second book as his negative outlook on his life continues to destroy any sort of relationships he has made.

Philip (Schwartzman) lives in New York with his photographer girlfriend, Ashley (Moss). He's worried that the publication of his second book with bring him only some short-lived success. His angst and negativity begin to completely deteriorate his relationship with Ashley. He makes life decisions without her and is almost emotionally abusive. Through their interactions, there was essence of a somewhat normal relationship that once existed. Now, they're at a crossroads where his dominance has completely taken over their lives, and Ashley is beginning to realize how negative he really is.

The film is broken up into three parts. First we follow Philip and his endeavors, then it cuts back to Ashely as she picks up the pieces of her life after Philip has left, and finally it focuses a bit on Philip's mentor, Ike (Pryce), a successful author from the 70's who takes Philip under his wing and has him stay at his summer home for a few months. Philip is only in a little over half of the film, yet his presence is always felt by the other characters. It's clear that Ike enjoys Philip because he sees himself in the young author. Though he doesn't seem as negative, Ike is still very pessimistic and also has trouble maintaining any sort of relationship, especially with his daughter (Ritter).

The performance that steals the film is Moss. When the story shifts back to her as she picks up her life after Philip up and leaves to hang out with Ike, we get a glimpse of a young woman who once was independent but threw that all away when she met Philip. Her performance is subtle; she never blows up or gets overtly emotional even when she encounters Philip again months later.

The problem that many will have with this film is it's very negative. Philip has almost no happiness in him. He's jaded and full of angst. It's difficult to relate or feel empathy towards someone who's that way 100% of the time. There are instances where he seems a little relatable, but most people aren't that negative the majority of the time, so in the end, the film comes across as just spiteful.

There's an audience out there for this film. And there are parts that do make you laugh. However, the bleakness of the story and characters will end up turning people away. If you decide to check this out, be sure you're not having an existential crisis or depressed because this will just make your mood worse.

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