Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Results (2015)

After reaching arguably a new level of strangeness with his 2013 oddball comedy Computer Chess, it's probably best that Andrew Bujalski followed it up with the romantic comedy Results, a more visually mainstream, narratively and emotionally accessible movie that also represents the first time he's used professional actors. That, of course, is by his standards though. There's still a level of strangeness and also plenty of human-behavior riddles that Bujalski's is dealing with that make it a film that takes a little thinking and openness to understand. As a whole though the film's breezy playfulness and investigation of more broad ideas like love and happiness make it more attainable for the average moviegoer and indicates Bujalski's not limited to movies that wear extreme idiosyncrasies on their sleeve. 

Bujalski's always had a really good sense of different types of human psychology and its relationship with what his characters do for a living, and it's no exception here. While the initial premise-which concerns a rich, lonely man named Danny (Kevin Corrigan) who tries to get his life together by joining a fitness gym-sounds like an indie comedy cliche, Bujalski puts it to great use by scrutinizing the habits and mindsets of people in the fitness industry. There's a massive dichotomy between Danny and the gym owner Trevor (Guy Pierce) and his trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders). Danny is a rich loser (his seemingly unlimited supply of cash is put silly use on multiple occasions, like when he gives his neighbor two hundred dollars to fix his tv and then throws in another hundred to show him how to connect his laptop to it) who smokes lots of pot and eats lots of pizza but at least is honest about it. Trevor tries to put on the air that he's mastered life through successfully starting a business and being a master at helping others be perfect, yet we see on a number of occasions that he's not very good at the business side of his gym, while at night he hangs out alone with his dog, messes around on his drum set, and has trouble sleeping. Kat meanwhile is extremely comfortable with her's and other's bodies when it comes to fitness and training, yet seems shows all kinds of anxiety when it comes to having an intimate, personal relationship with another person. Both characters are also dishonest to others, which is emblematic of the fact that there's something artificial about their lives in general. I can only speculate, but Bujalski seems to think there's a correlation between such artifice and the fitness world, that those obsessed with a perfect body image are only masking imperfections when it comes to dealing with themselves and others. 

Results is ultimately about getting to the point where you don't care as much about perfection, and how ceasing to do so delivers a certain kind of liberty and contentment in life. The film asks that we don't take things too seriously, with the reward for doing so being an alleviation of anxiety. While this may sound like a celebration of the pot lifestyle (and there's plenty of it smoked in the film), Bujalski's main solution seems to be confronting people upfront about problems as opposed to beating around the bush or simply avoiding them altogether. Danny is the catalyst for the change in Trevor and Kat's lives, as they wind up happy and in love. Danny, on the other hand, never gets what he wants from his honesty, but at the end there's still a freedom he experiences from his decision to be fearless and blunt with other people. At the end he asks a group of sorority girls living in the neighborhood if they want to go to a party he's throwing, ensuring that he's not a creep but just wants people to have a good time. The film ends with a euphoric dance party, maybe the ultimate expression of letting go of your fears about others and yourself. Not bad for a romantic comedy. 

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