Early '90s New York City, and animator Coles (Ruffalo) scores at a student party, where Sam (Strange) makes bedroom eyes and her friend Thea (Robertson) tags along too. Regrettably, the earth fails to move for any of the trio, but the experience forms an unspoken bond, leaving Coles and Sam to work through a destructive relationship, while Thea hovers tantalisingly within their orbit. It's messy. Jump forward a decade, and everyone seems so 30-plus grown-up, yet Sam's return to the city will test how much they've really moved on. If the opening section of this startlingly assured first feature seems too slippery to get a handle on, the leapfrog in time makes it clear that this is really the point. Director Austin Chick's naturalistic but carefully modulated screenplay outlines the notion that our early 20s shape our emotional make-up for better or worse. The insecure charmer Coles, for instance, consistently hedges his bets and creates turmoil for everyone. Thanks to Ruffalo's terrific performance, the character is never entirely sympathetic, just uneasy in the moment, always looking forward or even sideways in a way that recalls the young Jack Nicholson of Five Easy Pieces (an evident touchstone). With Stange's alluring reserve and Robertson's doomed neurotic making the drama persuasive, and the direction adeptly controlling colour and composition within a seemingly casual framework, this is a film of adult accomplishment, and authentic resonance in the viewer's own private spaces.
You may also like