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Wednesday, Sep 9 2009
While no one’s idea of an action film, Andrew Bujalski’s Beeswax feels less charmingly aimless than its radically slight precursors Funny Ha Ha (2002) and Mutual Appreciation (2006). Have Bujalski’s feckless characters joined the workaday world? As its title suggests, Beeswax has a mild buzz of business—and busy-ness. This loose, low-key, unaccountably fascinating movie has no particular sense of place. There are few establishing shots—Bujalski’s setups are dictated mainly by his characters’ relationships, most crucially that of the thirtyish twins played by actual twin sisters Tilly and Maggie Hatcher. Beeswax was inspired by the Hatchers, whom Bujalski has known for a decade, and their on-screen interaction (slightly infantile, a touch tense) imbues even the most ordinary activities with a strong behavioral subtext. So does Tilly’s being in a wheelchair—much of the movie is casually concerned with the nuts and bolts of her daily existence. There’s also Maggie’s unexplained breakup with her boyfriend, and Tilly’s deteriorating situation with an estranged business partner, which prompts her to reach out for legal advice to a former boyfriend, played by Alex Karpovsky. Bujalski has always been good at portraying intimacy and social discomfort—making closeness feel exotic, and awkwardness seem natural. And though there’s nothing labored about Beeswax, it gives the impression of something being worked out—even while it’s happening. Calculated spontaneity is this talented director’s greatest gift.
Sept. 11-17, 2009

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J. Hoberman


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