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Jeff, Who Lives at Home

June 22, 2012

Jeff Who Lives At Home asks a lot of questions. Fate? Free will? Goatee?  The film is directed by the Duplass brothers who struck indie gold with Cyrus and The Puffy Chair. Their film deals with arrested development in all its forms. Jeff stays on the shallow end of the subject matter but stays engaging due to its actors and unique direction.

I don’t think it ever wanted to be The Tree of Life.  But, it boasts the uneven narrative that the Duplass brothers are fine tuning.  I don’t think their style will hit the mainstream because their stories are methodically paced and focus on big aspects of people who live small lives. The Duplass brothers create movies that are intimate to them. I like their style and would trade an uneven narrative for likable characters.

Jeff does an interesting thing. It creates characters that are a mixture of terrible depression and arrested development. They could easily be viewed as unambitious and unlikable. However, with Jeff and Cyrus you appreciate the characters because of the actors performances.  If the actors weren’t so warm and likable you’d feel terrible for them.

Jason Segel plays a 30-year-old man best described as an unkept stoner Sasquatch.  Jeff lives at home and smokes weed. His widowed mother (Susan Sarandon) is confused and exasperated by her man-child.

He thinks the world is full of signs and coincidences. Thus, he waits in the basement looking for bigger things. He won’t settle because destiny hasn’t pushed him yet. However, after multiple viewings of the film Signs he gets a wrong number from a man looking for Kevin.

This leads him on a day long journey of coincidences and brotherly bonding. His brother is played Ed Helms. His character is a marvel of blue-collar douche and depressed obliviousness. He settled and is in an unhappy marriage and has resorted to acting recklessly to add entertainment in his life. His poor decisions lead him to buying a Porsche. However, his wife has resorted to flirting with adultery to cure her reckless needs.

Their lives seem so unhappy that it takes a lot to believe their ills will be cured in one day. The end of their day features an incredibly unlikely event which is incredibly effective. If you don’t like the characters and the Duplass style you will dislike the heavy melodramatic turn of events. However, the ending worked for me. Why not give these people a happy ending?

Jeff, Who Lives at Home is the work of two men who are finding their footing in the film world. Their style is simple and they make sad characters likable. The worlds are small but to the characters the changes are life changing.

Watch Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Support interesting directors. Watch Signs.

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