NYFF 2014: Listen Up Philip
In Alex Ross Perry’s follow up to The Color Wheel, the writer/director introduces us to author Philip Lewis Friedman as he angrily awaits the release of his 2nd book. Only steps behind Perry’s chaotic handheld camera movements, Jason Schwartzman as Philip stomps down New York City sidewalks, first meeting an ex-girlfriend to rub his newfound success in her face, then storming into his publisher’s office to declare he no longer intends to do any media promotion for the book. The repercussions are minimal for this malignant narcissist, the subject of the upcoming comedy Listen Up Philip; however, over time the film shows how Philip’s egotism causes his relationships to sour.
Accusations and quick-witted comebacks are dolled out swiftly in refreshingly intelligent repartee. The wit in Perry’s script allows for some revealing conversations to take place between close family and lovers. His commentary on how selfishness fares in relationships is made more intriguing by a collection of humorous performances. Supporting players Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Joséphine de La Baume and Krysten Ritter are able to take characters are loosely characterized and make them feel specific. The shining performance comes from Schwartzman, whose most searing lines are delivered with an unsettling but hilarious casualness.
Listen Up Philip meanders a bit for the middle section of the film, but it’s largely hysterical and insightful. It plays the New York Film Festival this week before a limited release on October 17th.