"Despite being incredibly funny in parts, it's sincere and earnest in its approach..."
Few contemporary filmmakers manage to create a picture that is equally as funny as it is poignant and endearing - yet the Duplass brothers - following on in a similar vein from their recent production Cyrus - have once again proved themselves in having the ability to do exactly that, in their latest feature Jeff, Who Lives at Home.
Jason Segel plays Jeff, a thirty-something still living at home - in the basement of his mother Sharon's (Susan Sarandon) house. Lazy and driven by fate, Jeff is convinced that everything happens for a reason, and when he takes an anonymous phone call asking after a Kevin, he goes on the look out for clues, befriending someone with that very name, desperately seeking answers as he attempts to discover his destiny.
His journey takes him to his brother Pat (Ed Helms), who is facing problems of his own as he suspects his wife Linda (Judy Greer) is having an affair. Suddenly Jeff realises where fate has taken him, as he is determined to help his brother get to the bottom of his suspicions and somehow create a bridge between himself and Pat, in what has previously proven to be a turbulent relationship.
Despite being billed as a comedy, Jeff, Who Lives at Home is really a poignant drama about a serious of interlinking relationships that simply aren't compatible, despite the fact those involved are striving to make them succeed. From Jeff and Pat's relationship to Pat and Linda's, as well as Sharon's with her two sons - here are a group of unhappy people that simply need one another to overcome their unhappiness and lift their spirits.
Jay and Mark Duplass have once again created a thought-provoking piece which, despite being incredibly funny in parts, is sincere and earnest in its approach. There are definitely quirky Juno-esque elements to the film, yet such a tone is overridden by a strong script and an endearing set of characters who you can't help but grow very fond of - particularly Jeff.
Jeff is an extremely well-devised character, playing on the typical pot-smoking layabout that we often see depicted in such films, yet with much more to him, as he is evidently intelligent and has a host of ideas, but is simply lacking the conviction and confidence to see them through. Segel encapsulates the role brilliantly, as the I Love You, Man star once again proves to be one of the finest performers in Hollywood at the moment. He is certainly proving himself to be versatile too, as his role is more dramatic than usual. Following on from The Muppets earlier this year, he seems to be able to adapt to a host of different genres. We just need to see him with a gun next.
The only potential negative lies in the somewhat frivolous and immoderate finale as all of the factors are pieced together, perhaps too easily. Yet the Duplass brothers have earned the right to be slightly over-the-top as the film is incredibly naturalistic up until the ending - allowing the filmmakers some discrepancy in thinking outside the box. The way the entire film is set over the course of one day - where so much takes place - also makes it more acceptable as you are led to believe that on any other day nothing of any significance happens at all - enhancing the absurdity of this one day, making you feel as surprised by it all as much as the characters are.
There really is a lot to Jeff, Who Lives at Home, as it certainly makes you ponder. It's heart-warming and touching, funny and uplifting, and to round off what really is a fantastic piece of cinema, it has a bloody good title too.