Film Reviews, Words

(Mild Spoilers, kinda sorta)

Today is apparently a “3 Mitten” Review day, as, after mulling over how I felt about Jeff, Who Lives at Home for the last two days, I decided to give the film a positive review. I mean, I definitely enjoyed watching it, as I spent the hour and a half in the theater wondering if Jeff would figure out his fate or if his brother or mother would find the love they both sought. But I wasn’t sure if I liked it after I left the theater. Written and directed by the Duplass brothers (part of the “mumblecore” movement), Jeff, Who Lives at Home wasn’t as awkwardly funny as their previous film Cyrus. But the same sweetness, feelings of being out-of-place, and strong family relationships were evident in Jeff. Jason Segal shows more range than he has in previous films, as he searches to figure out what his father’s death means for his own life. We see him follow signs (while quoting the film Signs) throughout one single day, which brings him in contact with his brother Pat (Ed Helms) and the ricochet of Pat’s failing marriage. The film also focuses Pat and Jeff’s mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon) through her day at work, which also happens to be her birthday. At first, she seems to exist in this boring cubicle only in relation to her children and their activities. But then, as she interacts with a coworker and receive messages from a secret admirer, we see her mourn for the life she thought she might have before children and eventually consider a life she never imagined, one based on a shared understanding of a person and not sexual love (unlike Friends with Kids). At first, I was confused why we didn’t just see the day through Jeff’s eyes, but in the beautifully aligned ending, I was glad to have known all of the characters a bit better…

In the end, I think I like the film. The characters somehow felt overly complex and one-dimensional at the same time, yet I felt for them, even without a full understanding of their history and lives. Like Cyrus, I’m sure a second viewing will reveal more complexities and layers. Or, perhaps the whole thing will fall apart and seem trite. But for now, I recommend seeing it, if you at all feel that there is some other meaning to this life and that our purposes will reveal themselves. Perhaps we, like Jeff, need to believe that what has come before has meaning. In the end, isn’t a life seeking something better than one sitting around stoned in our mom’s basement waiting for things to happen to us?

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