Directed by: Andrew Bujalski
Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures
Written by Taylor Baker
Andrew Bujalski has long been a recursive and unique filmmaker starting with “Funny Haha” he has told humanistic stories with a hushed sound coined and occasionally praised as mumblecore. “There There” sees Bujalski in a new situation, as an off-site director. Relying on his strong editing to create the impression that you’re between the two people in the intimate conversations he’s conjured.
The film opens with Lili Taylor and Lennie James sharing a bed following a night of lovemaking and connection that both had been yearning for. Except, they’re not in the same location. As the film continues the backgrounds alter more and more apparently to make it clear that these individuals are separate from one another. With great assistance from the tricks of Bujalski and team that separation brings the viewer into the intimate space between them. As an observer, but also in an odd way as a participant.
The film’s characters alter as if on a slow-spinning lazy susan from the actors Lili and Lennie, to Annie Laganga, Molly Gordon, Avi Nash, and Jason Schwartzman. Each adds personable wrinkles of humanity to the undefined puzzle that is “There There.” Relationships mashing and meshing like indeterminable tides lapping and rushing upon one another. While in some ways the piece doesn’t work in a classical “film” sense, it does invigorate and feel lifelike, like a movie. Characters are sloppy, ill-mannered, foibled, and human. They don’t all reside in grandiose manses or reclusive cabins, they encounter the film and the viewer as something very close to real people. Viewing that interplay and discourse between these characters and how the film places the audience in the midst of dialogue almost feels like a new form of moviemaking. When I shared my thoughts with Bujalski he said that he suspects that this new form, if that is indeed what it is, will die in the cradle.
“There There” Trailer