Surreal indie rom-com showcases rising stars Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel
Directed by Matt Aselton
Starring Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman
Brian (Dano), a mattress salesman, falls for Harriet Lolly (Deschanel) when she enters his store and falls asleep on a bed. She’s keen – “would you have any interest in having sex with me?” she asks, spontaneously – but her wealthy father (Goodman) is as imposing as a grizzly bear. Brian must negotiate a path through crazy families and his own timidity. There’s also the curveball that he is about to adopt a baby from China.
Aselton’s debut, which he co-wrote, strains too hard to avoid cliches. The characters are unrealistically kooky, yet sharp-witted and flush with epigrams. Brian and Harriet often speak in non sequiturs for no other reason than to set up comic misunderstandings. There are wafts of Little Miss Sunshine, Donnie Darko and Junebug. Dano, impressive in There Will Be Blood, seems bewildered, while Deschanel plays cute like Bambi. Yet there’s an echo of Hal Ashby, or even Hal Hartley, in the subversion of easy truisms about relationships, and its primary note – mild anxiety – may make it a cult favourite.