Bromance: it's a trendy topic. Between Brody Jenner's reality show, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel's I Love You, Man, and practically anything Judd Apatow touches, it's clear that platonic man-love on film is here to stay. Sundance darling Humpday takes the notion to an entirely new level, but not in the way you might expect. It's not overtly graphic — Bruno is much, much more in-your-face — but the squirm factor here is just as high. The uncomfortableness comes not from the explicit content (there is only one scene of brief nudity), but more from the raw, emotional dialogue and shockingly realistic acting.
I went into the screening expecting a film similar in tone to John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus — lots of indie actors, a sprinkling of sex scenes, a few off-beat laughs. And, while all of that is true, this movie feels wildly different. In fact, if I had to compare it to one other film it would be, weirdly, The Blair Witch Project. Topically the two couldn't be more different, but from the way each are shot (documentary style) to the way the characters interact, both give you a feeling that you're in on the action. As my friend said, "I feel like I'm living these scenes." I couldn't agree more.
To hear more about the plot of the film and what I liked, read more.
There are three main characters in the film: Ben (Mark Duplass), his wife Anna (Alycia Delmore), and Ben's friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard, who, ironically, also starred in Blair Witch). The three embark on a kind of You, Me, and Dupree existence when long-lost friend Andrew returns from Mexico and decides to crash in on Ben and Anna. Conflict ensues when the free-spirited Andrew starts getting under Ben's skin. Has Ben become a square now that he's married? Is he too "white picket fence?" It seems, after one drug-fueled night, that the only way to prove he's not is by competing in The Stranger's Humpfest (link NSFW) and creating something truly original — a porn featuring two straight guys having sex. The two key players being Andrew and Ben, naturally.
The rest of the movie revolves around this basic premise and the logical questions that arise. Can the two actually have sex on film (logistically speaking)? Will Anna be okay with her husband participating in this "art" project? Why, exactly, do they feel so compelled to complete this task?
All the while the audience has its own question — will these guys do the deed? I'll leave that question unanswered, but I will say this: the scenes between the two men are the least awkward. The interactions between Ben and Anna are what kept me cringing. Their conversations, their fights, their camaraderie feel like most of the relationships that I've had. It is uncomfortable to watch. Regardless, I recommend Humpday. It's wonderfully original, and any movie that makes me feel like I'm intimately involved has accomplished something substantial.
Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures