In fact, the sharp, rapid fire, witty and often vulgar dialogue will inevitably evoke memories of Clerks or Kids. Luckily, Confusions of an Unmarried Couple never comes off as derivative or a true imitation of prior films of that vein. That's a good thing for the Butler Brothers, seeing as how the film probably wouldn't succeed in being this interesting throughout its runtime with a been-there-done-that style of storytelling. It might help that Confusions clocks in at somewhere around 70 minutes, but trust me, there are a number of much shorter films that outweigh their welcome a lot sooner than this film would.
Brett himself describes his film as a "truly indie, underground film". That's a description I would agree with, considering its handmade look. However that's not at all to call Confusions "amateur". Jason, as both co-director and Editor, seems to know when to let the film look like a couple of brothers with cameras that interact directly with the players and when to allow the camera to simply be the observer, taking in the drama (and comedy) voyeuristically, yet un-intrusively. The result is a smooth blend of confessional monologue and volleying dialogue that rounds out to a satisfying whole.
Brett Butler plays the part of Dan, your typical hipster/ slacker. He's not always the most likeable guy, but the reason we sympathize with him is that we all know someone like Dan in our own lives. You know that one dude who might actually be smarter than you are academically, but can't hold down a job, loves weed and never has money? Wait... stop reading this for a minute and go check your living room couch! See him? He's been there since he rang your doorbell at 2 AM this morning, hasn't he? Okay, that's Dan! As maddening as that can be in theory, we all love the guy, right?
This is probably why Dan managed to score a FiancÚe like Lisa (Naomi M. Johnson). Simply put, Dan has his good points. But if Dan didn't have his downside too, you wouldn't be about to kick your own version of Dan off your couch and tell him to go home, now would you? These are the things that lead Lisa to "go a different way.
Through some of Dan's confused confessionals, our boy reveals that the reason for his despondency and depression is the fact that he came home one day to find Lisa naked in their bed with another equally naked female. Instead of shouting "HALLELUIA, THANK YOU, SANTA!", Dan has a negative reaction and goes to... well... crash on his brother's couch.
Is the rest worth a damn? Most definitely. Brett (as writer) has created a long string of exchanges between Dan and Lisa that can be both hilarious and frustrating. Often the viewer might feel compelled to yell at the screen "Dude, don't say that, do you want her back or not?" other times the attitude might be more along the lines of "Stay gone, Amigo, stay gone!"
Butler, the actor, is almost always quite good with his own dialogue and he generally feels natural and off-the cuff. Sure this could be because he wrote it, and because so much of it was based on Brett's own reality. As he put it, "The film was kind of an amalgamation of things that have happened, things I believe happened and things I was scared as shit of happening but in the end it is a fictional story." Naomi Johnson can also be fun and believable. She doesn't have quite the sharp and easy relationship with the script that Butler does with his own and at times she seems to be Naomi reciting lines and less like Lisa going through it all. Still, overall she holds her own in the sporting match against Brett's Dan and her performance helps make these kids so easy to root for. Let's not forget, these are our buddies here, for all their flaws. Brett and Jason make that perfectly clear and that comes through very well.
As I stated, throughout the 73 minute runtime of Confusions of an Unmarried Couple, the film never gets old or outweighs its welcome in any significant way, which is an accomplishment for a film that is primarily all about dialogue (this one is much more My Dinner with Andre than it is Pulp Fiction). To be thorough, here, there is an unrelenting flood of profanity, that will hardly offend its target audience, however there are also a few angry diatribes that include more than a few choice (often vulgar) words about body parts, what to do with them and comparisons of human beings to same. Hey, that doesn't offend me, but it might push the foul limits of a few out there. Brett Butler (as writer, actor and director) also tempers this whole thing with a self-effacing humor that keeps Dan likeable in his flaws. You never know what he's going to say... and you never know when or where he's going to stop. This is some funny shit, this is.
Conversely, this is also part of the problem with Confusions of an Unmarried Couple. It's just about at the point that we really want to see more from this dueling duet that the closing credits roll. It's not that the film is unfulfilling, it's that the film leaves the audience wanting one more chapter, or, hell, a whole sequel if necessary. If this one were the pilot episode to an independently produced series on IFC or something, you'd better believe I'd be checking it out each week.
A special nod should be given to Ryan Noel's original music. Like Jason Butler's editing, the music succeeds in taking the stage where needed and remaining an obscure accompaniment when the dialogue requires the most attention. Nice work.
The Indie Circuit is digging this film and it's already racked up some very respectable awards. Those weaned on a diet of straight Hollywood Romantic Comedies might not consider Confusions of an Unmarried Couple to be their cup of tea. Those who get a kick out of good dialogue and can appreciate a movie about real people, usually just talking, might find a friend in Confusions of an Unmarried Couple. It also gets my Three and a half stars out of Five. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's back to House Hunting. If I don't find a new place soon I might be asking friends for a place to crash. Sadly, the "CA" in my address is for "California", not "Canada", so asking Brett and Jason for a spot on their couch is simply out of the proverbial question. See you in the next reel, folks... Maybe I'll crash there instead.
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