Director: Andrew Bujalski
Mutual Appreciation is independent film at its most sincere-- a grainy, black and white gem from twenty-nine year old writer/director Andrew Bujalski that will attract fans of Jim Jarmusch and John Cassavetes with its French New Wave and 1960’s American film inspired tale of a twenty-something aspiring rocker who moves to New York City to try and break into the music business. Justin Rice is subtle and understated as Alan who nervously fumbles and earnestly chats with good friends off the stage, seemingly much too shy to actually become a rock 'n roll sensation but as evidenced in his musical scenes, comes completely alive when performing in front of others. The sole band member left from his former group The Bumblebees, Alan is in search of not only stable income but fellow musicians and catches a break when he meets the drummer brother of a beautiful but romantically forward and aggressive radio DJ named Sara (Seung-Min Lee). Although obviously the film has a storyline for Alan, it’s mostly one of those great, naturalistic and experimental pieces of cinema that really offers less in the way of plot and excels when just exposing people being real, as featured in the several scenes that find Alan hanging out with his good friend Lawrence (Bujalski) and Lawrence’s girlfriend Ellie (Rachel Clift), with whom Alan has begun trying to hide a mutual attraction (or "appreciation" as the film connotes) but the film is more about sincerity, tenderness, misguided speeches, aimless dreams and creativity as opposed to turning into a Jules and Jim styled love triangle drama. Film buffs looking for something unassuming and relatable (some of the scenes feel like they could come right out of the lives of many twenty-somethings) should be sure to track it down.