Posted July 30, 2009 in Film

Newlywed couple Ben and Anna (Mark Duplass and Alycia Delmore) are woken up in the night by a pounding at the door: Ben’s college best friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a traveling bum and painter back in the states on a whim. They won’t get back to sleep easily. The next night on a drunken dare that goes too far, Ben and Andrew book a hotel room for the weekend and vow before a room of partygoers that they’ll have sex—and film it—for an art project on love and friendship. Their claim for the stunt is their deep bond; the real reason is competition. Ben wants to prove to Andrew that his life isn’t as dull and bourgeois as he thinks (and as it really is) and Andrew the bohemian can’t get outdone by a square. Writer-director Lynn Shelton has an uncanny grasp of male bluster and best frenemies as the two spend the next days casually trying to get the other to bow out. Ben’s fibbed to Andrew that his wife is so cool she supports it; his limp attempts to hide the truth from both of them are more tension than we think we can stand—that is, until the two straight men shut the door of their hotel room and things get really awkward. Humpday has all the hallmarks of mumblecore: improv dialogue, odd pauses, flat lighting. But its characters leap off the screen because they’re more than vassals for ennui. This is an excruciating dramedy of schadenfruede for the anything-goes hipness of the last decade and a half which has devalued contentment as a cop out and elevated not-giving-a-$@%# to a religion, grounded in enough risk to feel like agony.


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