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Nights and Weekends - I was surprised by how much I liked this one. in fact it may be one of the better mumblecore movies I've seen. That doesn't mean it's anything 'great' but as far as slice of life films go it really makes a valiant and honest attempt to just show a couple as they are. The whole long-distance relationship angle makes the story kind of doomed from the get-go, or at least once one sees Mattie (Gerwig) get bitchy at James (Swanberg) over how much effort has to be put in to going from NY to Chicago and back again just to have a relationship. But what I liked this time, unlike, say, Swanberg's previous film Hannah Takes the Stairs is that there is also effort to tell a story, if only evidenced by the whole 'cutting ahead to one-year-later', and showing some set-up and payoff with a couple of things and items like a lion.
The two actors are natural, and why not? I have to think they were close enough to bare themselves to themselves (physically and mentally, mostly physically), and it works for the benefit of the naturalism. A few scenes get bogged down so much in minutae that you want things to move on, but what I liked here was that, for me at least, the stripping to the little moments made their relationship palpable, and cute, and kind of sad all at the same time. When we see Gerwig cry, we know the tears are genuine, as is Swanberg's awkwardness at keeping the relationship going, such as when he has a photo shoot and asks her to come.
Why to watch it? Simply put, it's a romantic dramedy for those looking for a solid alternative to pap and crap from Hollywood. It's so decidedly un-Hollywood it does come close to the other direction of being too precious. But only close, not all the way. It's got two actors completely at ease and open to taking their characters totally where they need to go without any BS, and as directors they keep things moving so it's never *too* boring. Some may disagree, and that's well and good, since it is still firmly in the 'mumblecore' vein. At the right moment in time, Nights and Weekends connected with me, and hopefully it may with a few others.
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