Early Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov was ruthless in his pursuit of ‘film truth’ – not documentary truth, necessarily, but using the camera to show people without masks, capturing our behaviour in those moments where we don’t feel we’re watching a performance. Director Joe Swanberg – prolific king of the low-budget indie film movement dubbed ‘mumblecore’ – is a big fan, and an admirer of the ‘The Office’, which does something very similar.
Comic drama ‘Drinking Buddies’, his latest, might be a step up budget-wise and in terms of craft (the artful, stark cinematography is by Ben Richardson, best known for ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’), but Swanberg has lost none of his eye for moments where we feel we can read a character’s thoughts. The film’s quartet of twenty and thirtysomething post-slackers are captured as they feel their way around the edges of what they want (and are afraid to ask for) with painful accuracy. It can be very funny, but there’s a bittersweet streak underpinning even the lightest moments.