Hannah Takes the Stairs
This review was written for the theatrical release of "Hannah Takes the Stairs."
IFC First Take
NEW YORK -- A sort of "Ocean's Eleven" for the so-called "mumblecore" movement, Joe Swanberg's "Hannah Takes the Stairs" features several of the filmmakers who have lately made a name for themselves via their ultra low-budget, highly naturalistic films about aimless twentysomethings.
Alternately praised for their insightful observations and damned for their self-indulgence, these efforts are probably best appreciated by their target demographic.
With its banal dialogue all too obviously improvised by its cast, the story concerns the ever-changing love life of Hannah (Greta Gerwig), an intern at an unspecified production office (careers are generally but a minor distraction for the characters in these films).
At first, Hannah is involved with the unemployed Mike (Mark Duplass, writer and star of "The Puffy Chair"), whose efforts to spice up their love life via methods like the painful application of ice cubes results in her breaking up with him. She subsequently moves on to a relationship with her boss, Paul (Andrew Bujalski, the reigning figure of mumblecore thanks to "Funny Ha Ha" and "Mutual Appreciation"), but his lack of attentiveness prompts her to take up with a co-worker (Kent Osborne, writer and star of "Dropping Out"), with whom she bonds via a naked trumpet-playing duet.
Although individual moments during the extremely low-key proceedings resonate with an amusing and sometimes painful truthfulness, it takes a lot of patience to wait for these nuggets during the general tedium. Fortunately, there's a lot of casual nudity on display, both male and female, to provide some distraction. More seriously, Gerwig proves herself to be a charming screen presence who manages to make her character somehow appealing despite her utter self-involvement.