‘That’s the problem with heartbreak, to you it’s like an atomic bomb and to the world it’s just really cliche…’
Mumblecore is the slightly sniffy moniker attached to a group of filmmakers including Mark Duplass and Joe Swanberg who essentially make films about nothing. Actors love it because they get to improvise in dialogue heavy, drama driven movies that explore relationship dynamics above all else. This helps to explain how Swanberg can call on such luminaries as Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde for a low budget dramedy like Drinking Buddies.
Luke (Johnson) and Jill (Kendrick) have their wedding plans disrupted when they become attracted to Kate (Wilde) and Chris (Ron Livingston) respectively. This comes to a head on a trip to a secluded cabin when passions threaten to spill over. And that’s it. That’s the movie.
This is why I love Swanberg and his work. It’s so low key, so real, that it becomes much more relatable than 90% of other movies out there. The plot’s are purposefully thin to allow the characters to breathe. This allows the audience the chance to peek behind the curtain of seemingly ordinary people’s lives. Because this is who we are dealing with her. Ordinary people with ordinary lives. Ok, so most ordinary people aren’t as beautiful as Olivia Wilde or as charming as Jack Johnson, but this is cinema after all, it has to offer something slightly remarkable, or we might as well just look out the window instead.
Drinking Buddies exploits the strong relationship between all characters with Wilde and Johnson doing a great job of selling two co-workers yearning for each other amid difficult circumstances, and Johnson is also believably tender and sympathetic in his scenes with Anna Kendrick. Throw all this together and you have a film that elicits all the feelings without ever stopping to shallow sentimentality or unearned emotional earnestness.
While it won’t be for everyone, Drinking Buddies will always have a home with those who have fascinated by relationships, particularly if they are accompanied by a twee, indie soundtrack. This is me. I’m talking about me.