Written by Dylan Brandsema
Results is a film that carries itself much higher it than it deserves. Going off the theatrical trailer, one assumes it’s a quirky, funny romantic comedy that aims for good laughs and high spirits. When sitting down and actually watching the film, one finds it tries to be more of a character study – a romantic drama, with the attempted humor serving as the cherry on top of the shake. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, Results is not any of those things — it’s certainly not a romantic comedy, nor is it a drama, and whatever attempt at a character study there is only extends as far as fitness and running metaphors. So what is it? Frankly, I don’t even know the movie itself even knows. Director Andrew Bujalski’s follow-up to his 2013 polarizer, Computer Chess, Results is a jumbled mess, and as far as jumbled messes go, it’s likely to be one of the less memorable of the category.
It’s not bad, though – in fact, the films actually starts off quite good. We are introduced our three main subjects separately, and quite effectively – Kat, a fitness coach and health nut (Cobie Smulders), Trevor, Kat’s boss who’s also an old flame of hers (Guy Pearce), and Danny, the sudden wedge between the two through events that transpire unexpectedly (Kevin Corrigan). We meet them all in separate places doing separate things and it is through this style that Bujalski successfully opens up our characters’ personalities, establishing their framework, and it works…until it doesn’t. This style of character development is interesting, but it’s also it’s own problem in the sense that there’s no protagonist. Flipping back and forth like a switch between these characters so quickly, and without any real time to absorb them, makes it almost impossible to latch on to any of them. Of course, there has films without protagonists before: Pulp Fiction, Short Cuts and Magnolia, just to name a few. In those films, it works. In this one, it doesn’t. In terms of direction actors to say and do certain things, Bujalski is good director, but he is not a skilled enough craftsman to pull off this level of cinematic form, and the fact that this style of consistent perspective swapping makes the overall narrative all the more diluted.
Even then, still, there are some shining moments. There’s a particularly well-done sequence towards the beginning of the film in which Kat, Trevor, and of their co-workers, Lorenzo are standing outside of their workplace (a gym) having a heated argument. The camera is placed behind Kat, and we all see is her shaded back side, while the other two men are in frame, and well-lit. Kat is the one with the most dialouge in the conversation, and yet, we don’t see her face. By the tone of her voice, we imagine her facial expressions are that of anger and frustration, but we don’t see them. This is an interesting creative choice by Bujalski, and one that works for the better, which lends to the fact that, as all dramas/character studies (even the wanna-be ones like this one) are, Results is driven solely by the characters and the actors assigned to portraying them. And all of them, despite working with a script that some might call pitiful, are on the top of their game.
Smulders and Corrigan are the two that stand out the most amongst the clutter, and, while Pearce does good too, they’re performances are really the only worthwhile things here. Smulder’s nine years on the legendary How I Met Your Mother has turned her into quite the talent, and Corrigan does a swell job as Danny. The most interesting scenes are the ones when the romance (if you can call it that) begins to spark between the two, and if this film had to firmly choose a single protagonist, it should be one of them.
But alas, this is a very unbalanced film, but so there’s bound to be a lesser side to the ensemble, and there is: roughly halfway through, we meet a lawyer named Paul (Giovanni Ribisi), and a business partner of Trevor’s named Mandy (the illustrious Constance Zimmer). While Zimmer and Ribisi do a passable job, they are two talents that are absolutely wasted, given much too little screen time and with absolutely nothing to do other than forcefully serve the progression of the other characters. Their relationships to the plot, and the characters within, is so thin it’s almost non-existent. It’s possible that they had more screen time and more purpose originally, and that the further utilization of their characters was cut for time in the editing (which is probably where this movie got all screwed up), but it’s also possible that they didn’t.
The biggest problem problem with Results is that with all it has going for it, nothing happens. It establishes its core characters, sets in motion the path they will take, and then it goes nowhere. It tries too hard to be too both too many genres and too little genres at once. As a comedy, it’s not very comedic. It’s not that the jokes aren’t funny; there’s simply too little an amount of them to be classified as being a part of that genre (if there’s more, I must have missed them). As a drama, it fails on all accounts. Typically, in film, a “drama” is any type of conflict-resolution story that doesn’t fall into any of the external categories (comedy, horror, sci-fi, action/adventure, etc). But here’s the thing about drama: it has to be dramatic. And Results is certainly not of that brood. Sure, there’s tension between characters, and maybe a little bit of tragedy regarding what happens to them, but those things mean nothing when your story is essentially: “boy likes girl and girl doesn’t know if she likes him back.”
By the time the film ends, we feel like we’ve been sitting with these characters for ages. 105 minutes goes by really slow when nothing is happening, and it makes it even worse when there’s no resolution. I’m serious — there isn’t one. Towards the end of the film, two of the characters sit down and talk with each other about the dangers of pursuing a certain action, how it will have a negative effect on those around them and themselves, and why it’s a bad idea. Immediately after, they do it anyway, and the credits roll over smiling faces. Maybe Bujalski was going for thematic irony, but then again, maybe he wasn’t.
Director Andrew Bujalski is often considered the founder, or “Godfather” of the filmmaking movement known as “mumble core.” According to Wikipedia, mumblecore is “subgenre of independent film, characterized by low budget production values and amateur actors, heavily focused on naturalistic dialogue.” Three things: “independent” is not a genre a film, Mumblecore is stupid, and so is this film. These actors certainly are not amateurs, and they’re wasting their talents on something far inferior to them, giving a truly mediocre film a higher rating then it probably should. The results of Results are that it’s simply, by the easiest definition of the words, not good.
This film is frequently being referred to in reviews, press, and other places as being exceedingly “unconventional.” This is true, but just because it’s unconventional, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.
Results OVERALL RATING: 5/10