Directors’ Showcase / UK premiere

Humpday

  • Lynn Shelton /
  • USA /
  • 2009 /
  • 94 mins

Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard / Fiction / English

How close would you get to your oldest friend...?

The recent comedy hit I Love You, Man explored the domestic ramifications of a newfound ‘bromance’ between heterosexual males. There must be something in the air, because this hilarious and oddly poignant lo-fi work by Lynn Shelton has similar matters in mind. It just takes them somewhere a little more extreme… Ben (Mark Duplass) is a thirtysomething professional contentedly tumbling towards middle age. He and his wife Anna (Alycia Delmore) have a cosy home in Seattle and are trying for a baby. But then the doorbell rings at 2am… The unexpected guest is Ben’s old pal Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a free spirit who has spent recent years living out all of the sex-and-travel adventures that Ben has forsworn. Deciding to stay, Andrew effortlessly finds a niche within Seattle’s druggy, arty, polyamorous subculture. Somewhat to his own surprise, Ben finds Andrew’s new social life is a catalyst for unleashing his own bohemian streak. Must he be permanently consigned to unhip suburban oblivion just because he’s married? Ben’s efforts to keep up with Andrew’s lifestyle inevitably cause problems with Anna, but once he’s got the bug, he’s desperate to assert his rebel credentials further. The ultimate opportunity arises when Andrew’s feisty pals introduce the idea of Hump Fest, a (real) amateur porn film festival held annually in Seattle. So what’s the wildest, most improbable thing two straight males can do on camera? How about … each other? The outline for Shelton’s film initially suggests the ribald absurdity of Judd Apatow or Kevin Smith, while its raw visual style and dry, verbose script draw on the conventions of ‘mumblecore’ (the voguish indie movement of which Duplass is a leading light). But Humpday’s psychological complexity transcends both sets of forebears. Such is Shelton’s skill with character interaction and actor direction that the plot appears to evolve organically before our eyes. Conversations carry subtle undertones of status play, and we witness people misguided by charisma or ego into acting entirely against their better judgement. It’s this kind of detail, plus dead-on tragicomic set pieces (Anna joylessly straddling Ben during a row, so as not to waste a day on which she’s ovulating; Andrew and Ben working out their rivalry through a truly horrible bout of one-on-one basketball), that makes Humpday a hell of a lot finer than such a funny film needs to be.

2009 Archive

Image from Humpday

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  • #1 David Clarke / Wednesday 24 June, 2009 / 09:28 GMT

    Very disappointing !! In a film, such as this, where the plotline is so weak there is an over reliance on the characters to keep you interested. Unfortunately, the characters felt so contrived (one wore a hat and had a beard which is supposed to prove he has seen the world and is a bit edgy man) that you end up with very little interest in their story. Whilst there were genuinely funny moments some of the dialogue seems to have been straight lifted from a Bill & Ted movie. Maybe, I just didn't get it because I am a bloke and its a film about feelings or maybe it is because the story seemed to be about imposing what the female writer thought men should feel towards long-term mates.
    This film is like totally not awesome dude! Woh!
    Sorry.
  • #2 Amy Shields / Wednesday 24 June, 2009 / 10:18 GMT

    Totally disagree! But then I am a woman?! I really liked it, found characters to be very realistic (even with the contrived arty hat!) and story interesting and certainly held my attention.
  • #3 Nick Prance / Thursday 25 June, 2009 / 22:25 GMT

    Thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the acting first class and the characters very believable. And actually is was at times genuinely laugh out loud funny. THe final scene of the film was full of a weird kind of tension humour and anticipation, and i think they got it just right. I went not knowing anything about the film, or what to expect and i had a great time

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