Joe Swanberg, like many of his contemporaries and many auteurs from the 1970's golden age of filmmaking, tends to focus on smaller stories about people and their intimate problems, and his newest film, Alexander The Last, is no different.
The film focuses on the relationship between two actors, Alex (played by Jess Weixler) and Jamie (played by Barlow Jacobs). The two are working on a play together, and Alex allows Jamie to crash on her couch while her husband, Eliott, is on tour with his band. She enjoys the company, and insists on setting Jamie up with her sister, Hellen. When things get serious between Hellen and Jamie, though, Alex realizes she has feelings for Jamie, which is a triple threat because 1) She's married, 2) She's in love with her sister's boyfriend (after she set them up), and 3) They're starring in a play together that is very sexually charged, and they are, therefore, very close to each other, in rehearsals, at all times.
Alexander The Last is a good film, but, ultimately, I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Hannah Takes The Stairs or Nights and Weekends. Maybe its the chemistry that he built with the star of both of those films, Greta Gerwig (who was also a collaborator in the writing and directing process), or maybe it was the over simplicity of the story. It feels like everything in this film is laid out from the very start, and you instantaneously know, from the beginning, where he is going with all of this.
Justin Rice stands out in his role, having made steps to better himself as an actor since his debut in Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation (which he did a pretty good job in. If he ever decides to not be a musician, he could have an acting career ahead of him). Jess Weixler and Amy Seimetz are also great as the two sisters her always on an edge of love and hate with each other. Jacobs, as Jamie, seemed to closed off for a film that is so intimate and so about the internal goings on of its characters. It's not that he did a bad job, but I'm not sure he was completely right for the part, or, maybe the part wasn't right for him.
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