Andrew Bujalski, US, 2006, 110 min.
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An instant critic’s darling upon its release in 2006, Mutual Appreciation is at once an utterly timeless and distinctly mid-aughts portrait of the ebb and flow of twenty-something life in New York City. Richly observed and deeply humanist, the film follows Alan (Justin Rice), an aspiring musician, who crash-lands in town following the breakup of his band in Boston, immediately taking up with his old friends Ellie (Rachel Clift) and Lawrence (writer-director Andrew Bujalski) while negotiating the affections of a local radio DJ (Seung-Min Lee). In the tradition of Éric Rohmer, John Cassavetes and Jacques Rivette, Bujalski crafts a deft yet unassuming generational statement that finds its inspiration less in plot than in sharply drawn relationships and captivating conversations. Lovingly lensed in intimate 16mm black & white film, Mutual Appreciation is a generous and witty ode to the friendships that hallmark our awkward and enthralling post-collegiate years.
Mutual Appreciation, along with 2002’s equally lauded Funny Ha Ha, signaled the triumphant arrival of indie auteur Bujalski, who has gone on to write and direct a suite of critically acclaimed features including Beeswax (2009), Computer Chess (2013), Results (2015) and 2018’s Support the Girls.