Mutual Appreciation (USA; 110 min.)

directed by: Andrew Bujalski
starring: Justin Rice; Rachel Clift; Andrew Bujalski
Mutual Appreciation
Michael says: "Chlotrudis loves it when a talented, local filmmaker achieves some level of success, and while Andrew Bujalski isn’t a Matt Damon or even an Eliza Dushku, he’s well-known in indie-circles for his debut film, FUNNY HA HA. Now Bujalski is back (he’s actually been back for over a year) with a second film, MUTUAL APPRECIATION. Bujalksi’s new film is reminiscent of his first, mainly because it focuses on young people in their twenties, features a natural acting style, and is shot on an extremely low budget. But MUTUAL APPRECIATION is a tighter film, with fewer sidebar stories, allowing the central plot to develop more fully. While there is no standout performance like Chlotrudis Awards nominee Kate Dollenmeyer in FUNNY HA HA, the three principles form a more cohesive unit working together to tell the story.

"Alan (Justin Rice) and Lawrence (Bujalski) have been friends for a very long time. Alan is a musician whose band has recently broken up, so he moves back to his hometown to refocus on his music. Lawrence is a Teacher’s Assistant at a local university, who is thoroughly in love with his live-in girlfriend, the practical-minded Ellie. Naturally Lawrence wants Alan and Ellie to be close friends, but right from the very first scene when he plops himself down on the bed between them as they laze around their apartment, you can tell that there could be an undercurrent of concern involved. Alan is a charismatic fellow, and Alan knows it. He is also somewhat insecure in his relationship with Ellie, often seeking her approval or confirmation of her feelings. When Lawrence is away for a weekend wedding of an old-girlfriends, Ellie and Alan confess to each other that there is a mutual attraction between them. But rather than send the film spinning into a predictable tale of passion and betrayal, Bujalski (who also wrote the screenplay) allows the characters to behave like what they are; adults who are good friends with real emotions between them. It’s refreshing, realistic, illuminating, and very funny.

"Like FUNNY HA HA, MUTUAL APPRECIATION will be self-distributed by Bujalski, hopefully coming to a theatre near you later this year. Do yourself a favor and take a look (and check out FUNNY HA HA, available through Netflix, your local video store, and at your Chlotrudis library of screeners). 4 1/2 cats"