Via voiceover, Harmony (Rice) announces his intention from the get-go: to catalog “two or three things happening in my life at this time, tailor-made for low-stakes dramatization.” So follows the travails of this sad-sack office drone who has been dumped by his girlfriend, Jessica (Tucker), and can’t shut up about how his former flame is “still breaking my heart—she hasn’t finished the job.” Both his friend (Corrigan) and various nemeses (Pat Healy as a skeevy boss, director Byington as a tough-love sibling) are deaf to his whines, so Harmony channels a melancholic rage into songwriting. “No one wins in love,” warns his piano teacher—which becomes painfully apparent when our hero’s obsession leads to a medical emergency.
Byington’s third movie boasts serious mumblecore credentials, thanks to indie-rocker Rice (the star of Andrew Bujalski’s seminal Mutual Appreciation) and a de rigueur shaky-cam aesthetic. But thankfully, the director has little interest in actual mumbling. Harmony is a finely tuned comedy, complete with precisely scripted jokes and comic set pieces that swerve toward the playfully perverse. A plot description does no justice to Byington’s talent for wringing fresh laughs out of previously tapped sources (who doesn’t love a good ejaculate-in-hair joke?), and even the straight-up musical interludes lend unexpected weight.