V/H/S co-director Joe Swanberg brings the world the unscripted, booze-fest of a rom-com, Drinking Buddies. The film, which is mostly improvised, stars Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson as Kate and Luke, best friends who work together at a Chicago brewery. Their chemistry is evident, but both are (or were) in committed relationships. Luke, whose long-term girlfriend Jill (Anna Kendrick) is keen to twist his arm over the marriage issue, whilst Chris (Ron Livingston), Kate’s boyfriend, does not feel so strongly about their own relationship.
Swanberg’s intention with having no scripted dialogue was for the film to come across as a genuine reflection of modern day relationships through its natural, off-the-cuff style. Unfortunately the real-life sense that is supposed to have been created gives off more of a forced, awkward screen presence amongst actors who do not seem entirely comfortable with what they were being asked to do. The dialogue is not so much natural as it is a mumbling, awkward mess that consists more of long pauses than anything remotely funny or charming. Kate and Luke’s relationship is played out through long, repetitive ramblings over, unsurprisingly, a bottle of beer (or three).
We get nothing out of the characters bar from their fondness of alcohol and willingness to play card games whilst intoxicated. The lack of personality in any of the four main characters is astonishing, yet unfortunately not that surprising. We can only hope that this is not what our own friendships are like in real life, as if it is, we are all as boring as sin.
For a film that involves a lot of drinking alcohol, Swanberg has produced an incredibly dull affair. The intention to create a realistic representation of real life relationships in such a way is admirable, but Drinking Buddies is a prime example of how tough well-worked improvisation can be. When it works, it can make for great viewing, but without the skills and guidance to do so we can see, through this film, the undesirable results that can occur.
It is hard to comprehend that during a ninety minute film nothing of note can actually happen in that time, but Swanberg manages to create such a non-event through Drinking Buddies. The premise of the film is fairly straight-forward, and as an audience watching this type of movie you go in expecting a certain conclusion to it all. The only thing you expect to happen during the movie, however, does not materialise, therefore nothing has actually happened during the entire film. The final scene is particularly anti-climatic and will leave you scratching your heads as to what exactly was the point of it all.
An interesting idea that has totally back-fired: Drinking Buddies is an uneventful, uninspiring, bore-fest that will leave you praying to the powers that be in the hope you and your friends really are not that dull.