Team Picture (2007)

27 08 2008

I suppose anyone that bothers to read this review will be turned off by my inevitable use of the dreaded “m” word – mumblecore. It is definitely one of the more daring and offbeat entries into this “cinematic fad” of sorts, but it by no means the best, either. Like many of its peers, Team Picture suffers from the dreaded aesthetic of digital video, but credit should be given to Kentucker Audley for at least trying something that will stylistically separate him from all the other young American independent filmmakers.

David is on the cusp of adulthood, but he is far from being ready to make that certain emotional step forward. Rather than applying to college or accepting the responsibilities of being a twenty year old, he spends his time lounging around in an above ground baby pool with his eccentric roommate, Eric. Following an inevitable breakup with the ambitious Jessica, David quits his job. Now, he displays little interest in the future and instead only lives within the present, which is when he meets Sarah.

Audley isn’t winning any creativity points with the narrative here. This is a fairly textbook story about people afraid about graduating from childhood. The main protagonist here, David, even is a wannabe singer-songwriter. The setup is rather cliché and the mannerisms of the performers are rather exaggerated as well. Normally, this would spell disaster, especially for a film that relies so heavily on being spontaneous and truthful. Not to make matters worse, but the actors themselves aren’t all terrific, either. Certainly their status as “unprofessional” implies a certain lack of grace (and I mean so in a positive light) but most of the performances here seem very forced in a sense. Audley’s very awkward sense of pacing certainly doesn’t help out, though. While so many of these films rely on the superficially mundane and undramatic, this one seems to thrive on it. Sure, there’s not a plot or even dramatic turns, but it seems to chronologically jump around so much that every sequence gives the impression of a scripted sketch.

These sketches are still incredibly charming, in spite of how constructed they seem. For as terrible as I’ve bad the film out to be, it is actually quite funny. It is certainly the most outrightly “comedic” film of the mumblecore bunch, which I suppose explains all the problems I mentioned above but also its unique positive traits. Towards the end, it actually becomes almost overwhelmingly said, if only due to the fastest romantic relationship in a film this side of Il Posto. On the whole, though, this is just too fast and too short to be as powerful as it wants to be.

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One response

2 09 2008
Joe B

I very much agree with all you said about the film, however I found Audley’s acting as the main character rather effective (I don’t have anything nice to say about the rest of the cast). And why Team Picture works for me over most of those m-word movies is perhaps its lack of dialogue and specifically Audley’s reluctance to have his characters speak endlessly about what lies beneath the surface. Team Picture ended up sticking with me for a few days after viewing.

And… I didn’t think the digital video was as much of a distraction as some of the film’s “peers.” At least there was a tripod involved.

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