Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

DVD - My Effortless Brilliance

Lynn Shelton, by way of being at the right place at the right time, sort of fell into the whole Mumblecore scene by befriending folks like Joe Swanberg and others at various film festivals around the time that that movement began. Since then, she's had a roll in Swanberg's Young American Bodies, and Nights and Weekends, and followed up her debut feature, We Go Way Back, with My Effortless Brilliance, and Humpday. She continues to grow, and explore some of the more mature aspects of relationships that her contemporaries don't seem to scratch on.

Brilliance begins with the abrupt breakdown of a friendship between the characters Eric and Dylan. Eric is a writer who's ego has become too big for his friend Dylan to handle. Flash forward two years, and Eric has seen his share of let down, seeing the follow up to his debut novel crash and burn, and being humbled by the only mild success of his third novel. On a trip to Eastern Washington to give a lecture, Eric seeks to find Dylan, and tracks him down to a cabin in the woods. But has two years been enough time for Dylan to forgive and forget?

Effortless Brilliance is hard to nail down. On one hand, it is filled with long, rambling scenes that often times don't seem to go anywhere except to further establish the characters relationship with one another (which is pretty well done within the first half hour or so). On the other hand, I think the film is an amazing dissection of the way a friendship can dissolve because of one persons complete inability to really be the kind of friend the other person needs. I feel like I've been on both sides of this situation, and I feel like Shelton and her crew really managed to suss out a lot of what goes on between two people in that situation. Basil Harris and Sean Nelson fit PERFECTLY into their roles, and I think they are a primary reason, other than Shelton's direction, that this film succeeds as well as it does. My Effortless Brilliance is not a perfect film, but it is a good film with a lot of things to say and to think about.

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