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Drinking Buddies (2013)
Rated R

Starring: Oliva Wilde, Jake Johnson, and Anna Kendrick

Rating:
***
out of
*****

 
 
Chris (Ron Livingston) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) are one of those couples that shouldn't work.  He is a socially awkward bookworm and she is an outgoing, social butterfly.  Similarly, Jill (Anna Kendrick) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are equally mismatched.  She's an artist and he works in a brewery.  Luke and Kate work together and they introduce their significant others to one another. Unsurprisingly, they hit it off.  So much so, in fact, that a weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods starts a series of events that will leave them all changed by the end of the film.  

That's really the entire plot of Drinking Buddies.  To give away much more would be difficult because not a lot happens in the conventional movie sense.  Writer/director Joe Swanberg is a autuer in the relatively new genre of "mumblecore."  Mumblecore features are typically made on low budgets and scripted through mostly improvised dialogue. Watching Drinking Buddies feels less like watching a movie and much more like watching actual situations that have been filmed in sequence and then edited together.  The viewer is the one who assembles the story and makes sense of it.  The script does very little in the way of exposition.
  
Olivia Wilde's performance is particularly noteworthy.  This is probably due to the fact that Kate is the most fleshed-out of the four main protagonists.  As she fumbles her way through her interactions with Chris, Luke, her boss, and her co-workers, we get to see more of her than any other character.

Billed as a "comedy about when to say when," Drinking Buddies might catch the unsuspecting viewer off-guard with its lackadaiscial pace and the relative scarcity of laugh-out-loud moments. As it was my first experience with the "mumblecore," I can definitely say that my interest has been picqued and I want to see more of this type of film.  It's certainly not an easy film to recommend to the mainstream moviegoer who doesn't want to be challenged.  For those that think that movies seem too formulaic these days, Drinking Buddies feels refreshingly different.

Trivia: This film was entirely improvised. There was no script, and the only things the actors and the crew had was a vague outline of the plot and the order in which certain events would take place. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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