Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"The Puffy Chair" (2005) - Movie Review

Certainty in many things is a demand but in relationship it is not. It scares the men and in the days of the liberated women, it scares them too. In this era we have discovered and confused on the phenomenon on selfishness while it morphs and reveals as freedom. When it feels right to tie the knot? When it feels she/he is the one? Is it the reason for our life or is it the security we want with the person forever with whom we are at the height of our happiness? Several Hollywood films say those and many of them cheesy and disgusting. Few come through in the independent stream. This is the Duplass brother’s “The Puffy Chair”.

Josh (Mark Duplass) and Emily (Kathryn Aselton) are having dinner. It is a special dinner as Josh is about to venture out for a trip early next morning. She wants the night to be hers and he is glad to hers but there buzzes the phone. A dear friend has called him to hook him up with someone he knows. He is downright rude by completely ignoring Emily and plainly insensitive along the way. She wonders whether she really is dating this person. She rips out the table cloth and walks out. Josh slowly gets out to see where she went and comes back home. Next day Emily wakes up to a soothing music coming through her bedroom window. She peeks to see Josh playing her song in the boom box as the beautiful “Say Anything” have gifted the men to placate a rift with their girl friends. She smiles and he invites her to the road trip. This is Josh and Emily, the couple on the cusp of a proposal or a break up.

Written by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, “The Puffy Chair” does not dissect the whacky out of the ordinary characters. Josh is a sweet guy with a sweet tooth for the misery stupid jerk we have seen in our friends, and a little bit in ourselves. He can be super sensitive in hunting down a replica of a puffy recliner chair his father used as a gift but cannot spend extra 10$ for one more person in a motel. Emily knows this and the good outweighs the bad side for her in this young man. She puts up with this.

So the trip is the plan of Josh to say hello to his brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins), pick up the chair from the seller and drive to Atlanta for his dad’s birthday. Rhett has a bushy beard and brown eye. He has a smile which would comfort any one at pain. He is the easy going hippie of the suburbia. When Josh and Emily visit him, he is hiding in the bushes and comes out with a video camera. In his apartment, he shows the video he shot which is a lizard carefully moving along and providing a strange sense of aestheticism and organic feeling. He is so involved in the surroundings that he does not even remember his dad’s birthday. He decides to tag on and the way he puts it is not intrusive but a smooth blackmail. He gets on the van.

Duplass brothers carry a drama with the similar treatment of natural flavour as Rhett carries himself though they are more responsible than him in their task. In this road trip, people get married, people get disappointed and people get thoroughly confused of themselves, situations and relationships much like our day to day life. We are around the characters and swing by them in conversations. “The Puffy Chair” might be the perfect exemplary of the trend of modern young men and women in this phase of their relationship forced to go beyond it. Josh and Emily from the tell of their body language mention us that their boyfriend-girlfriend tenure has sustained some great mileage. What is next?

And with the young free soul brother finding love in a night and decide to tie the knot , the pressure only gets higher. This does not help Josh in escaping the decision. For Emily this is new to see Rhett being spontaneous but Josh knows better. He does not oppose what Rhett is up for. He rides along and enjoys his brother’s impulsive actions. He warns Emily for not getting her hopes up on a great happy ending for Rhett but at the same time he administers the impromptu wedding on the wee hours under the influence of alcohol with beautiful vows and love. Josh is the complex miser we would never understand the reason for his snobby behaviour.

When everything is pointing fingers towards the commitment phobia Josh, we are stumped by the drive for Emily to push for a permanent fix. It is almost a David Mamet moment when Josh catches that off Emily. These are simple couple with the most common problems of any two people in a relationship. It amuses me that after all these years of so many people in relationship and researches, one would expect that someone would have figured out an answer for these problems. “The Puffy Chair” is one another great inspection of this simple complex thing called relationship and it in its tiny independent way takes bold steps, twists and settles on an ending which is again, so typical of the today’s generation but not so typical for a film about a couple.

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