After a loved one falls ill, 25 year old struggling comedian Emily Martin returns to her college town of Austin, Texas and must come to terms with her past while staying with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
Although it is billed as comedy, I thought it was almost a shame that it did have a specific punch-line at the end of it, because otherwise the majority of the film is doing something very different which worked well for me. It is a hard sell to describe what that is though, since really it is an observation in banality. We join our main character as he comes out of a garage having bought a funnel, which he was told he needs to pour some liquid into his car to make it work again – or at least some guy says this. He chats to his friend as he walks back to his car.
The framing of this walk is comedic from the start, since it takes him along rivers, through fields, into underpasses, and lasts an entire day – which is amusing as clearly the nearest garage in an American town is never such a walk away. As this absurd walk goes on, the character has the most banal chat with his friend; it is not that this is funny in a ha-ha manner, but more that it is a wonderfully well observed of a certain age of person and their lack of self-awareness. The conversation is full of pointless observations and anecdotes, all delivered with lack of precision, lack of interest, elevation of the ordinary to be some sort of "event", and lots of the expected slang and dialogue of the type of character. It is an odd experience because to watch this as a film it is really nothing happening, but at the same time it is a quite harsh (but fair) presentation of this character.
Hyland does this well across the board; his writing captures the essence of those terrible conversations you hear on public transport, while also delivering it in a convincing manner too. The direction is good despite the low resources, while the editing is very effective at giving us enough of each conversation so we get the idea, but keeping it jumping and moving so we have the feeling of time passing, and the absurdity of this journey. That it does the banality so well, will probably have the knock-on effect that it can feel banal in its own right, but as a spoof of a character it is very much on the money and presented within an absurd frame that is amusing throughout.
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