Though this romantic comedy has been described as mumblecore pioneer Andrew Bujalski’s move from lo-lo-lo-lo-fi indie filmmaking to something approaching mainstream cinema – it’s his first film to feature well-known professional actors, for example, and clearly cost more to make than anything else he has produced – it’s still refreshingly different to most of the other movies clogging up the market in this tired old genre. What we have is a love triangle, of sorts, involving personal trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders), her health freak boss Trevor (Guy Pearce, reverting to his real accent despite the Austin, Texas setting) and their mutual client Danny (Kevin Corrigan), a newly-divorced and unfit guy who has recently and unexpectedly inherited millions of dollars following the death of his estranged mother. The film explores Kat’s relationships with the two men, and the strange health and money-related relationship that forms between Danny and Trevor.
A lot of people will be put off by the pace of Results, or perhaps by the fact that its writer and director steadfastly avoids some (but not all) of the genre’s conventions, ensuring that some may experience discomfort at no longer being in Kansas. The film plods along, slowly but surely, and Bujalski eschews traditional dynamics between the three main characters: most other rom-coms featuring two men and a women would pit one likable guy against one barely-likeable guy and the lady would eventually choose the partner that the majority of audience members will be rooting for (see Bridget Jones’ Diary, High Fidelity, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Philadelphia Story et al); that’s not the case here. Although Trevor’s extreme dedication to healthy lifestyles means he spouts all manner of risible motivational bullshit inside his own gym, he’s essentially a decent and honest guy. And so is Danny, a man who is trying to expand his social circle while also coming to terms with the break-up of his marriage and the unhappiness that comes with his new-found wealth. The intense, irascible Kat is younger than both men, but is seemingly pressured by her age and the idea that she should be out having casual sex that leads nowhere, and is thus unwilling at first to commit to a relationship with either suitor. So where most rom-coms have a principal focus on one party of the potential romance, here there’s equal weight given to all three; as such even as the film enters the final act you’re never quite sure how it’s going to turn out, which is a rarity, and it feels more realistic than the usual fayre we see.
Bujalski shares the same level of interest in his characters and their lives as Richard Linklater, and several ten minute periods drift by where they’re just talking in rooms together, shooting the breeze while nothing much happens. It’s a little self-indulgent, and you may find yourself checking your watch at times, but it does mean that all three feel like well-rounded and believable characters by the end (although the one supporting role, filled by Giovanni Ribisi, feels distinctly underwritten by comparison). It’s not a distinctly funny film, by any means, and it lacks some of the idiosyncratic touches of Bujalski’s earlier work (though there are some), but Results has a certain peculiar charm and it has been a while since I’ve been surprised by the plot of a romantic comedy (though I’m not suggesting there are extreme and unexpected left turns here). As a tentative first step into Hollywood it bodes well, but this director may have to compromise certain aspects of his style if he subsequently decides to jump right in. And it’s nice to see Anthony Michael Hall pop up, albeit briefly.
Directed by: Andrew Bujalski.
Written by: Andrew Bujalski.
Starring: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi.
Cinematography: Matthias Grunsky.
Editing: Robin Schwartz.
Music: Justin Rice.
Running Time: 105 minutes.