This was one of my top three films that I had looked forward to seeing this year at Sundance. We all know and have come to love John Krazinski as Jim Halpert in NBC's hit The Office. He has proved his grit in front of the small screen for the past four and a half years, naturally, his shot to take reigns of a film for the big screen is well deserved and very highly anticipated. His choice for his first project is a novel of the same title by late great American author David Foster Wallace, in which interviews of 23 men are compiled in a dark and sometimes humorous look deep into the psyche of man. This choice of story took balls to say the least, and ultimately let to my, and many other's indecision as to weather this film was "good" or "bad", in general terms. Here's why.
Thumbs up considerations
It would be an understatement to say that the acting was great. This script must have been a dream come true for this cast. The vast majority of screen time was spent on a single actor at a time, each delivering a well crafted interview monologue focusing on a taboo realm of the heart and nature of man. Some were short and humorous, such as the cameos from Will Arnet and Will Forte, and some were longer and more serious. All were great. The language brought fourth by Wallace and Krazinski is poetic and deep. This story takes a very honest look into a wide array of situations, many times offering insight or opening doors to further thought concerning their core issues. However...
Thumbs down considerations
The story was boring. In fact, a story was all but non existent. In the novel, the interviewer is hypothetical, we never meet them. Krazinski was very smart in scripting in a grad student, Sara, who had recently had her heart broken and decides to dedicate her thesis to better understanding why. I would have loved to see more development with her character. Sara stays very detached from the film and there is no sense of knowing or understanding who she is. For me, having spent just a little more time developing the main characters in this story would have woven it all together creating a more coherent and relatable film without detracting from the original work's focus on the individual men interviewed. As is, the film feels very much like a compilation of poetry readings.
Despite my qualms with Brief Interviews, I do believe that John Krazinski will continue on to make some marvellous films in the future. Way to go Jim.
The Dude Abides