Mutual Appreciation (2005)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Urban Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 1, 2006 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Like his debut, Funny Ha Ha, Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation is a wryly amusing, expertly shot intimate character study with an undercurrent of genuine pain. It's clear from the opening frames that Bujalski knows his struggling-artist milieu perfectly. His sets (one place with no chairs, another with the mattress on the floor, Christmas lights around the mirror in a girl's apartment) and dialogue -- the way these characters engage each other with a dryly funny mix of solipsism and self-negation -- are spot on. In the lead, Justin Rice convincingly portrays Alan's endearing need to analyze everything that comes out of his mouth ("You're a beautiful woman -- or girl, whichever you prefer") and the rest of the cast -- including Bujalski himself, playing a slightly more appealing character than he did in Funny Ha Ha -- is equally adept. Every hem and haw of the dialogue is bracingly true-to-life. It seems improvised, even if it's mostly scripted. Bujalski's keen eye and ear -- his ability to capture every telling little detail of these people's lives in a seemingly offhand manner -- effortlessly puts across this engaging story of young, unfocused lives, in which it seems something amazing might happen at any moment, even if it usually doesn't.