Director: Joe Swanberg
By now the phrase “We should probably talk later,” seems to echo the same sentiment as “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” or “I hope we can still be friends,” that all daters seem to use while trying to process how to break up with someone. “We should probably talk later,” is a phrase I’ve personally used (more times than I care to admit since knock on wood, so far I’ve always been the dumper although that’s hardly a victory) and it’s the same one that Hannah (Greta Gerwig) tells her first of three boyfriends shortly into the delightful indie comedy Hannah Takes the Stairs. Although it’s used early on, viewers who, like Hannah, are in their twenties know damn well that it won’t be the last time we hear either those exact words or something similar from our feisty, hyper, annoyingly indecisive and self-obsessed yet unquestionably bright and affable heroine. No, we find ourselves making the decision to break up often before it dawns on Hannah as the young college graduate navigates through the instantly relatable and compulsively addictive terrain of three slightly older men including her twenty-eight year old boyfriend Mike (Puffy Chair writer and star Mark Duplass) who quit his job since work nor rocking out in bands is no longer making him happy, the moody and self-deprecating intellectual narcissist in humility’s clothing Paul (Mutual Appreciation and Funny Ha Ha writer/director Andrew Bujalski), and thanks to the gifts of antidepressants, the higher functioning fellow trumpet playing writer Matt (filmmaker Kent Osborne).
Shot without a script or without much in the way of a plot, Hannah Takes the Stairs isn’t quite as mesmerizing as Bujalski’s films that are also included in the, as The New York Times explains “Do-It-Yourself” style independent movement Bujalski named “mumblecore” with self-involved characters who chat about nothing in films with low-production value. Yet, despite this, Hannah is one that feels less like a vanity project than some other mumblecore offerings and seems to be an articulate, recognizable if slightly ridiculous film that keys into the aimless wanderings of intellectual twentysomethings still trying to figure out just where to go from here. Reared on pop culture, the characters like Hannah admittedly suffer from “chronic dissatisfaction” yet in between their ramblings amidst these messy Cassavetes like glimpses of people all striving to find meaning, they manage to ask some pretty engaging questions about life, art, the manic state of romantic crushes and the fleeting nature of love. In other words, when the conversation is this engaging, suddenly the phrase “we should probably talk later” doesn’t seem so dire after all.