'Bloomin Mud Shuffle': Film Review

Courtesy of Rooftop Films
A little gem about romantic frustration.

James Ransone plays a regular Joe who just wants a real relationship.

Following his attention-grabbing Tangerine performance with a role that's sympathetic rather than showy, James Ransone is the bruised heart of Bloomin Mud Shuffle, Frank V. Ross's story of a bro who is more focused on meaningful relationships than appearances might suggest. A slice of life set in Chicago suburbs where expectations stay low and family bonds hold fast, the pic looks unromantically at its protagonist's affair with a woman who, despite his best efforts, will probably never want to settle down and start a family with him. A cast peppered with indie figures from Alex Karpovsky to Joe Swanberg (a producer here) should help draw attention to a film that prefers to leave its heartache on simmer than milk it on camera; though minor in some objective respects, the effort makes everyone involved look good.

Ransone plays Lonnie, an underachieving heavy drinker who works as a house painter with buddy Chuck (Karpovsky). (The movie's title refers to the compound used to cover joints in the drywall under their paint.) Lonnie does little with his days beyond endure discursive chatter with Chuck (Karpovsky's funny rants, the sort heard often on Girls, are presumably his own inventions) and occupy a stool at his local bar. But his days are brightened by chances to flirt with Monica (Alexia Rasmussen), the office manager who sends him out on jobs.

Eventually, their flirtation leads to regular (and often drunken) hookups. But while Lonnie's intentions are pure, Monica wants nothing more than these sleepovers. "I get bored," she warns him in between mocking his earnestness; when he is crestfallen that his love is not reciprocated, she calls him an "angry elf."

Rasmussen's Monica is not exactly cruel, she's simply disinterested, and Ross doesn't make her the kind of elusive dreamgirl Zooey Deschanel played in (500) Days of Summer and All the Real Girls; similarly, Ransone is never the adorable surrogate for every young man in the audience who has had his heart broken. He's just a sincere guy who, when going over to Dad's place every week for Sunday dinner, wants a beautiful girlfriend with him at the table. As a compassionate priest reminds him in a standout confession-booth scene, waiting for that is easier when you can appreciate the opportunities for non-amorous connection that surround you every day.

Cast: James Ransone, Alexia Rasmussen, Alex Karpovsky, Natasha Lyonne
Director-screenwriter-editor: Frank V. Ross
Producers: Jacqueline E. Ingram, Joe Swanberg
Executive producer: Alicia Van Couvering
Director of photography: Mike Gibisser
Music: John Medeski

No rating, 75 minutes

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