THE COMEDY (Rick Alverson | USA | 96 min.)
Much like Five Easy Pieces or Mike Leigh’s Naked, director Rick Alverson and lead actor Tim Heidecker have masterfully created a captivating character study about an unlikable character. (Fans of Tim and Eric should delight in seeing a new level of skillful acting from the duo.) With Swanson (Heidecker) and friends cracking wise at everything life has, the film is funny as hell. But watching this crew romp indulgently—beer wrestling and drunkenly playing wiffleball, scathingly critiquing each other with straight faces and stoner eyes—it would all be so much mindless naval gazing if not for the sense of melancholy which imbues their actions. One has to wonder if they are having fun while they’re having fun.
All these hilariously inappropriate failings become a search for the essence of humanity, finding connection despite differences, and his search would be the same no matter his race, class or cultural background. He’s not looking to “better himself”—the film is smarter, edgier and more true than that platitude. He doesn’t know what he’s looking to do. But this biting nihilist comedy is worth seeing for the unique cultural critique of a man burning through life fast and raw, aching with the painful hope of the perpetually cynical.