Nights and Weekends



IFC Films

The ever diminishing rewards of the so-called "mumblecore" indie film movement are demonstrated by "Nights and Weekends." Co-written, co-directed and co-starring Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig (the latter its reigning star/sex symbol), this lugubrious portrait of a crumbling relationship fails in its aspirations to become a "Scenes From a Marriage" for twentysomethings who don't know any better.

Mattie (Gerwig) and James (Swanberg) are a couple whose long-distance relationship -- he lives in Chicago, she in Brooklyn -- is foundering. Shot in the style's typical low-budget, presumably improvised fashion with plenty of nudity on display, the film never manages to make its characters particularly interesting, despite the obvious care taken to convey their relationship ennui with as much hyper-realism as possible.

Unlike obvious influences like Cassavetes, the filmmakers are unable to make banality interesting, with the aimless, trivial dialogue less effective in providing insight into the characters than in lulling audience members into a somnolent state. Unless, of course, you find such moments as when Mattie describes her distaste for the sight of people eating bananas to be illuminating.

Ultimately, it takes a gifted sensibility to make the blathering of semi-articulate characters compelling, and the collaborators fail to make that grade. The blandness of the writing is exceeded only by the blandness of their performances, which aim to make their characters appealing in an Everyman sort of way but instead merely come across as an accumulation of neurotic tics.