Since inadvertently letting loose the term ‘mumblecore’ in an interview, American screenwriter and director Andrew Bujalaski has kept well within what eventually spawned a film sub-genre of the same name. He even went on to earn the title ‘Godfather of mumblecore’, to the credit of a series of films characterized by low profile actors, loose production methods and naturalistic dialogues. From his offbeat and enjoyable debut film ‘Funny Ha ha’ (2002) to ‘Computer Chess’ (2013), a zany period comedy set in the 80s, his work has made him an indie-film darling.
Bujalski has long deflected conventional storytelling indulging in characters that unravel through perpetual real-life dialogue. That is until he made ‘Results’ (2015), which takes a cautious step in the direction of studio films that has an air of mainstream in it. The film continues to reflect the filmmaker’s penchant for subtle humour surrounding characters portrayed in awkward human relations, a bit like Sissako did recently. However, it is the film’s star cast and the glossy sophistication that marks a step in the direction of convention.
The story is in basic terms a love triangle set in the world of fitness training. In the film, Kevin Corrigan (Superbad and The Departed) plays Danny, a newly divorced and out-of-shape stoner who finds himself well off in life. In a vague attempt at bringing purpose and structure into his life he joins a gym where he meets Trevor, a fitness entrepreneur and owner played by Guy Pearce (Memento and Iron Man 3). The two characters are stark opposites in many ways and vie for the affection of Trevor’s former love interest Kat, the hyper-intense fitness trainer played by Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother and the Avengers). Corrigan’s pudgy and lacklustre character is the unexpected yet fitting arch rival for the seemingly impassive and austere Trevor. The offshoot of this premise is an effective and cynical romantic comedy that presents the characters together with their flaws in a sympathetic light.
The plot explores a number of directions as their interactions extend beyond physical fitness. The story lets loose the personal journeys of each of the characters in their quest to find fulfilment in their lives. Bujalski cleverly lets the characters take charge of the plot that in effect takes a backseat. In expressing each of their failings as they grapple with their issues Bujalski succeeds in capturing genuine emotion. In Results everyone is hung up on some unfulfilled desire. In Danny’s case it is coveting Kat’s firmly sculptured body whereas Trevor, who clearly harbours feelings for Kat, frets about mixing business with pleasure while obsessively setting his sights on greater career aspirations.
The kooky music beats that accompany as the scenes unravel, simply add to the quirky charm of the film. Results is not merely your run of the mill rom com. It instead reinvents it in typical Bujalaski style by being oddly touching and full of possibility.