By ZACK LEDESMA
In director Alex Perry’s “Listen Up Philip,” Jason Shwartzman plays arrogant egocentric writer Philip Friedman, who lives in the city with his girlfriend Ashley, played by Elisabeth Moss.
Struggling to make headway on his newest novel, Friedman is offered to stay at the rural summer home of a once-famed writer named Ike Zimmerman, played by Jonathan Pryce, and his daughter Melanie played by Krysten Ritter.
This movie really excels at it is getting the viewers to despise the protagonist, which is everything but unintentional.
Shwartzman’s character has little regard for others emotions as he is afraid of people seeing him as anything other than a great literary entity.
Pryce’s character tries to channel his former glory through Philip, but constantly belittles him and justifies destructive characteristics by making him believe that if you are great you are entitled to be a vulgarian.
The comedy is supposed to come from how insufferable the characters are, which is not as funny as it is painfully realistic. This worked for and against the film.
Philip and Ike are so unlikable, but instead of being over the top and goofy as it may have been intended, it comes off as really believable and upsetting.
The film, a dramatic dark comedy featuring Shwartzman as a writer in the city, draws some parallels, including its main actor, with the HBO series “Bored to Death.”
The movie occasionally side steps to the stories of Ashley and Melanie who are affected the most by the selfishness of both men.
This gave me someone to root for, hoping that they both are eventually able to distance themselves from their poisonous relationships, which was ironically what Philip initially set out to do for himself.
Genuinely ingenious, Perry made a film where the focus of the picture is two static megalomaniacs that really exist to develop the more dynamic side characters.
Despite the main characters being detestable beyond belief, I still recommend seeing this movie. In the end, it was satisfying to get through all the pretentious babble for the last few scenes.
“Listen Up Philip” is opening theatrically at The Loft on Friday Nov 21. For times and ticket information, go to loftcinema.com.