Nights and Weekends (NR)

Drama 79 October 10, 2008
By Nick Pinkerton
Nights and Weekends telescopes a year-and-a-half relationship into a sampler of chats, spats, and screws. James and Mattie are two kids in their mid-twenties, just feeling out the world; they’re played by the film’s co-directors, Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig. For all the emotional flagellation they indulge in, it doesn’t seem that theirs is one of the great romances. The towering adversity they face is living in different cities—no A Farewell to Arms, this. Swanberg and Gerwig, along with a cadre of young filmmakers working along parallel lines (we’ll call it postgraduate naturalism—the accepted nickname is too stupid to repeat), show a heightened interest in acute cases of masculine passivity and passive agressivity. Looking beyond the squirmy exhibitionism, let’s allow that the filmmakers’ project is basically a good one: trying to create situations that dial up elusive, little-seen emotional frequencies (a/k/a The Truth) and catch them on camera. But this packaging of facile recognition as The Truth can be awfully close to flattery, reinforcing a ghettoized and meager idea of reality. Would the world be poorer if James and Mattie’s pillow talk disappeared, un-noted, into the ether? The two discuss feelings and fears a great deal; not so much art, sport, pop, politics, philosophy. It’s an effective reminder of why most of us discuss those things constantly—it’s smotheringly boring not to.
Greta Gerwig, Joe Swanberg Greta Gerwig, Joe Swanberg, Alison Bagnall, Elizabeth Donius, Jay Duplass, Lynn Shelton, Kent Osborne, Ellen Stagg Greta Gerwig, Joe Swanberg Greta Gerwig IFC Films

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