Results (Magnolia Pictures, R)

Results 75Results may not be Bujalski’s best film (I’d probably give that honor to Mutual Appreciation), but it certainly is his most accessible.

 

 

 

Results 500

It’s been over a decade now that people, myself included, have been saying that Andrew Bujalski is the best filmmaker working in traditional American independent cinema. He broke through with 2002’s Funny Ha Ha, made one of the new millennium’s best underseen films in 2005’s Mutual Appreciation, and in 2013 his avant garde-leaning film Computer Chess landed at the #5 slot on my annual top ten list. It’s true that he’s worked with semi-recognizable people before, such as Wiley Wiggins (Mitch from Dazed & Confused) in Computer Chess or Alex Karpovsky (Ray from Girls) in 2009’s Beeswax, and also Bujalski acted alongside a young Greta Gerwig in the awful Hannah Takes the Stairs (which Bujalski had no hand in writing nor directing), but on the whole he’s maintained his independent spirit by working largely with unknowns, tackling themes outside of the mainstream, and, you know, that old tip-off of many independent movies, working under the confines of low budgets.

With all of that in mind, Bujalski’s newest film, Results, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is Bujalski’s most atypical movie, at least as compared to the rest of his oeuvre. For one, it stars people you are likely to recognize: Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Memento), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill from multiple Marvel movies, including this summer’s Age of Ultron), and Kevin Corrigan (a character actor whose face you’re sure to know from something; anything from True Romance to Buffalo ’66 to Freaks & Geeks) are our three leads. Beyond this, the film isn’t as formally adventurous as Bujalski’s prior films are, or not in an immediately-noticeable way, anyway. The combination of the starrier cast and more formulaic premise has of course led to Results getting the biggest release I can recall for any of Bujalski’s films thus far, because that’s the way things work in the movie industry.

But that can only be considered a good thing in this case, as, despite what might seem like concessions to the mainstream, Bujalski is still as good as ever as witnessed in Results. Pearce plays a fitness guru named Trevor, who owns a gym and employs a sizeable staff (including Smulders’ hotheaded personal trainer Kat), and who is looking to expand his business. After an embarrassing physical display in front of his ex-wife, Corrigan’s rich, socially-inept schlub Danny comes to Trevor hoping to get in shape, though he doesn’t seem to be the type to stick to an endeavor such as this. Kat, needing clients, takes on Danny, and in this sort-of love triangle the chemistry is all off between everyone, in typical Bujalski fashion.

Though Results is in many ways a romantic comedy, it doesn’t really follow the formula, let alone falling into traps like going for cheap laughs or featuring easily predictable turns of plot. For example, where many romantic comedies would have a gay best friend, Results instead has a perennially-stoned lawyer named Paul (Giovanni Ribisi). Anthony Michael Hall even turns up as an idol figure for Trevor, and ex-Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker plays Hall’s wife.

The real star of the show is Corrigan. Results for him feels not unlike how the role of Teardrop was for John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone—it’s the first substantial showcase of its chameleon-like actor’s considerable talents. This is one of the real casting coups of the year—Corrigan perfectly balances between being a charming sad sack and a fat rich creep, and it’s a joy to watch him try and interact with the film’s other characters, who are nearly all foils to his idle nature.

Results may not be Bujalski’s best film (I’d probably give that honor to Mutual Appreciation), but it certainly is his most accessible, and I would love to see him garner more fans on account of this film. Though he hardly needs it, Results does make one wonder what he’d do if he had even greater resources at his disposal. | Pete Timmermann

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