Joel Kastelberg (= Joel Castleberg), Eric Stoltz (executive) for Joel Castleberg Productions
directed by Noah Baumbach
starring Eric Stoltz, Annabella Sciorra, Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brian Kerwin, John Lehr, Peter Bogdanovich, Bridget Fonda, Vincent Polidoro, Yvette Brooks Grant, Jose Soto, Delaine Yates, Nico Baumbach, Joel Kastelberg (= Joel Castleberg), Dean Wareham, Leigh Zimmerman, Patricia Towers, Helen Hanft, Andrew Mills, James P. Engel, Martha Gehman, Lauren Katz, Michelle Blakely, Matthew Kaplan, Jonathan Baumbach, Julie Jacott, Noah Baumbach, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Laurie Durning, Christopher Reed
written by Noah Baumbach, music by Luna, Robert Een
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For most of his life, even since before he had his actual real
girlfriend, Lester (Eric Stoltz) has suffered from bouts of jealousy - a
problem he has always tried to counter though. And now he has a lovely
girlfriend Ramona (Annabella Sciorra), and he tries to keep himself in
check - at first rather successfully even. Until he of course learns about
her ex from years ago, successful writer Dashiell (Chris Eigeman) - and
the mere thought she might have had a relationship with a higher profile
man than himself who still lives in the same town as she does drives him
slighty crazy - even though "same town" refers to New York City
of course. However, Lester eventually finds out where Dashiell goes to
group therapy, and decides to join the same therapy sessions, led by one
Doctor Poke (Peter Bogdanovich) - but he doesn't join as himself but as
his best friend Vince (Carlos Jacott), talking mostly about Vince's second
thoughts about getting married to Lucretia (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) soon.
At therapy, it's not long before the expected happens and Lester and
Dashiell lock horns, playing your typical game of alpha dog, while at the
same time Lester learns little new about Ramona, but the few times
Dashiell mentions her drive him mad. But then the unexpected happens and
Dashiell invites Lester to drinks, telling him how much he likes their
exchanges, as Lester's the only one who dares to speak up to him, and how
much this helps him in his own relationship with Irene (Bridget Fonda).
And against better judgment, Lester starts to like Dashiell, and for that
he decides to leave therapy. Unfortunately, Vince has by now grown so
addicted to the advice Lester brings home from group that he tries to
dissuade Lester from leaving - and thus the two of them make up a ploy
where Vince joins the group as Lester and once the real Lester has left
the group he plans to gradually morph back into himself. That already is
not the best of ideas, but it's made worse when Ramona and Lucretia begin
to suspect their respective boyfriends hide something from then, and when
finding out the whole charade, the shit pretty much hits the fan ...
pretty clever romantic comedy (for lack of a better term) that pretty much
stays clear of all genre tropes and instead brings insight to the table,
and that really focuses on its characters and especially their
fallabilities instead of driving the plot to its inevitale happy ending.
Now spoiler, this movie ends happily enough, but it's really the road to
there, wrapped up in a handful of character arcs, that matters most. All
of this is only enhanced by a subtle, cliché-free directorial effort and
relatable performances by all involved, to make this a worthwhile watch.