'Results': Sundance Review

Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival
A laid-back comedy about people who aren't great at relaxing

Guy Pearce and Kevin Corrigan are men on opposite poles of the fitness spectrum, both with eyes on Cobie Smulders.

A love story about two people who understand their bodies much more than their hearts and one who understands neither, Andrew Bujalski's Results takes its title from the promises made by gyms selling memberships to the flabby and insecure. The results in this case can't be measured in pounds lost or muscle gained, but in the distance put between oneself and the illusion of having control over one's life. A perfectly chosen cast sells this unhurried comedy, which flows unconventionally but is still, by a long stretch, the most mainstream-friendly picture Bujalski has made.

Guy Pearce is Trevor, a gym owner who's a true believer in the holistic, perfect-yourself ethos he sells; Kat (Cobie Smulders), the tightly wound employee he sometimes sleeps with, is the kind of overinvested trainer who can make a client's doing 16 stretches instead of 20 feel like a personal betrayal. When gone-to-seed Danny (Kevin Corrigan) comes in "hoping to get in shape a little bit," Trevor puts his hardcore trainer on the case. (She puts herself on the case, actually, an early example of Kat's refusal to cede control to others.)

The recently divorced Danny just inherited a ton of money, and is trying to buy some contentment in a rented McMansion in Austin's snooty Westlake suburb. Though willing to give exercise an honest try — witness the disturbing redness of his face and the "What am I doing here?" apprehensiveness in his eyes — he quickly becomes more interested in Kat than in lunges. He makes an overture so ill-considered she drops him as a client and Trevor almost wrings his neck — before stepping back and, in an endearing demonstration of his principles, encouraging Danny to pursue his self-improvement goals.

The two men wind up spending more time together, and Bujalski amusingly manages to work in the get-in-shape montage a movie set in this world demands. Add a few drunk or stoned nights and a heart-to-heart talk, and before long the ultimate physical trainer is (against his will) jumping through someone else's hoops.

Results feels little like Bujalski's first lo-fi, seemingly improvised films, but one still senses a reluctance to invest much in plotting or overthinking. Surely, a filmmaker more inclined toward (as Trevor would put it) "optimization" would make better use of Giovanni Ribisi, who has a couple of diverting moments as Danny's lawyer friend but could have earned twice as many laughs without even making an effort. On the other hand, the film cares more about its subjects' loneliness than it seems to at the outset, and builds to a resolution likely to satisfy the rom-com fans in the room. If the quick look of victory on Smulders' face when her stubbornness finally pays off suggests how close she came to losing a no-excuses, no-surrender game whose rules were known only to her, that's a lesson for another day.

Production company: Houston King Productions
Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker, Constance Zimmer
Director-screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski
Producers: Sam Slater, Paul Bernon, Houston King
Executive producers: David Bernon, Greg Stewart, Sev Ohanian
Director of photography: Matthias Grunsky
Production designer: Michael Bricker
Costume designer: Colin Wilkes
Editor: Robin Schwartz
Music: Justin Rice
Casting director: Carlyn Hudson

No rating, 104 minutes