Philip Lewis Friedman (Schwartzman) is a writer awaiting the publication of the follow up to his eye-catching debut. He's taken under the wing by celebrity writer Ike Zimmerman (Pryce) who invites Philip to his country retreat so he has the time and space to completely devote himself to writing. However, this means leaving live-in girlfriend Ashley (Moss) home alone for the summer.
riter-director Alex Ross Perry invokes Wes Anderson not only in his self-absorbed characters, but also the matter-of-fact narration. Ralph Fiennes’ Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel felt like a grown up version of Rushmore’s Max Fischer, but Schwartzman here is the real Max twenty years on. He is intelligent and ambitious but emotionally stunted, cruel and full of self-importance. But funny with it. While it's Anderson in writing, it's not in aesthetic: Perry's tactic of close ups and shaky cam don't invite intimacy or reality and serve to only frustrate as actors loom in and out of focus.
erry makes other strange decisions, like the determination to write against screenwriting must-dos. He sets up the film as Philip's struggle between Zimmerman's advice that the only way to become a success is to be selfish, and that of an ex (Kate Lyn Sheil) who reckons that this will lead to isolation and loss. But then Perry tosses all that out. In a bizarre move, he reduces Philip to a supporting role in his own story by first exploring Ashley's summer sans Philip and then Zimmerman’s relationship with his daughter (Ritter), with whom an expected affair with Philip never materialises. By the time the story finds its antihero again, the film's almost over.
t's funny, with cruel one-liners littering the dialogue: "I supported you when no one gave a shit about you. I want you to know that I regret that now," "I hope this will be good for us... but especially me." Perry keeps the audience on an uneven footing, asking us to constantly re-evaluate what we feel about these characters. He wants us to have fun with Philip and his acerbic snarky snipes but when he's supposed to see the error of his ways and make good, Perry reminds us that people don't change. Not really. Philip doesn't turn into a kind person. He remains self-involved as the credits roll.
itto Pryce's obnoxious writer - he’s a hoot until a party scene where the mood turns sour and we're reminded what a horrid individual he really is. There are moments when the cartoon characters let some humanity shine through - Moss’ tearful reaction to Philip’s typically cold take on their relationship.
omehow this inconsistent tone works.
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