The Plagiarists

Written by Michael Clawson

70/100

When their car breaks down on their way back to the city, a young, white artist couple, Anna and Tyler, are helped by a middle-aged black man named Clip (“as in audio clip”, he says), who offers to put them up for the night. The night they spend together is pleasant – the three share dinner, booze, and more booze together – but something about Clip’s situation seems odd. First, there’s a little boy upstairs entertaining himself on an iPad that Clip says he’s babysitting. Then, while walking around the house as he takes a phone call, Tyler stumbles into a room that’s full of cameras and film equipment. And then there’s the monologue that Clip launches into after dinner about his childhood, delivered in an odd monotone that’s nothing quite like how he’s spoken throughout the night thus far.

This all sounds like the set up for a horror movie in which each of these oddities will come to be explained as the hipster couple tries to escape the clutches of a madman. That’s not what the The Plagiarists is at all, though the plot specifics of the first half do give it an air of mystery, and the couple, Anna in particular, are in fact horrified by a revelation that they have months later about their night with Cliff. It’s a tongue-in-cheek riff on indie dramedies of the mumblecore variety, and you’re never really sure where it’s going. The unpredictability and false starts to potential subplots are pretty amusing, as is the movie’s self-awareness and self-deprecating wit. It likely isn’t parodic enough to satisfy anyone with an aversion to mumblecore in the first place, but otherwise, the wry uniqueness of its approach to themes of originality and authenticity is intriguing.

The Plagiarists Trailer

The Plagiarists is currently streaming on Kanopy and available to rent and purchase on most major VOD Platforms.

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