It’s always interesting when big stars like Emily Blunt decide to do a low budget film and after a summer of seeing posters all over town, I decided it was about time I gave it a go. The brains behind this flick is Lynn Shelton, movie and TV all rounder having credits for writing, acting and directing some very well received material. Crediting the three lead actors as creative consultants, this mumblecore film ticks all the modern relationship-drama improv boxes.
Aside the first scene or so, the whole film centres on one location and three central characters. Iris (Emily Blunt) is best friends with Jack (Mark Duplass) who is grieving his brother, who passed away a year ago. After an emotional outburst at a party (for the anniversary of his brothers death), Iris suggests Jack goes and stays in her families cabin in the woods for some recuperation. Low and behold when he arrives Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is there strolling around in her underwear, whilst mourning the end of relationship with a long term girlfriend. After a few drinks and a predictable drunken hook up between the newly acquainted friends, the next morning Iris arrives fresh with news for her sister that she is in fact in love with Jack. A love triangle, albeit and unusual one, is created.
Duplass, cast as the male lead, is one of mumblecore’s leading figureheads and it shows. He is able to lead a scene with the confidence and the calming influence that gives the audience respite from this often-awkward genre. Iris is very believable as the younger sibling in awe of her older sister whilst Hannah expertly rolls her eyes, scenes with just the two of them work very well. The most uncomfortable scenes happen when the three are together eating meals, Hannah and Jack move in unison leaving Blunt’s Iris behind in their wake. I often found myself wanting another scene with just the two of them together. The woodland setting is a brilliant back drop giving a calming contrast to the boiling pot drama going on inside the cabin. There are some truly funny scenes, almost solely created by Jack who’s boyish charm is endearing.
Spoiler alert: The drama thickens mid way through the film when we discover that Hannah desperately wants a baby, leading to the revelation that she had put pins in the condom the night she spent with Jack. During a blow out between the three characters it’s also revealed to Jack that Iris is in love with him, opening another can of worms. The end of the films watches the characters try to resolve these issues, leaving me at times a little bit bored and waiting for the inevitable happy ending. A happy ending, which I felt, was misplaced and all too easy to arrive at. There is however a slight cliff hanger that ends the film leaving a small sense of mystery but by this time the characters have kissed and made up, giving you the feeling that it’s all going to be ok.
Although the filmed ended in a way that was disappointing to me, it has certainly stayed with me. I loved that there was only three central characters and was based around one secluded location, it really pulls you into the story and gives space for the characters to develop. I’ve probably spoken about this film to more people than I would have done if I’d loved every part of it. Interesting concept and interesting story line. I’ll certainly be looking out for some more mumblecore films in the future.
Written & Directed by: Lynn Shelton