Director: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Constance Zimmer, Tishuan Scott, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker
MPAA Rating: (for language, some sexual content and drug use)
Running Time: 1:45
Release Date: 5/29/15 (limited); 6/12/15 (wider)
Review by Mark Dujsik | June 12, 2015
Results is the story of three lonely people who refuse to allow happiness into their lives. The reasons for this strange but surprisingly common practice are right up there on a motivational poster early in the film: fear, excuses, and surrender. The poster isn't very motivational, but that's because the "no" that's supposed to accompany those words is hidden from view. It's an obvious joke, but there's nothing wrong with a little bit of clarity when you're dealing with people who hide their feelings so well.
This is an odd film. The structure of a romantic comedy is here. The three characters—two men and a woman—form a love triangle. There are complications and misunderstandings that keep the two resulting couples apart. There are awkward encounters and failures of communication, and jealousy and other things that create conflict arise, too.
On paper, it might not sound odd, but the film is, because it doesn't feel like any kind of romance is even possible for any combination of these characters until the film's final moments. They don't trust themselves enough to genuinely consider the possibility, so we have no reason to believe that they would be capable of trusting another person with something so important, which, again, they don't even think of as a possibility in the first place.
There's nothing obviously external about the hindrances to love here. Every barricade is raised by a character for one reason or another. Every cessation of potential romantic momentum comes because a character chooses to stop the progression. Circumstances don't dictate what happens here. The characters themselves do. They are masters of their respective destinies, even if they only have a vague idea of what the destiny could possibly be. For at least one of these characters, a vague idea would be a step in the right direction.
The one that immediately comes to mind is the character we meet first. He's Danny (Kevin Corrigan), and his first appearance in the film sees his marriage collapsing. Six months later, Danny has rented a mansion, which is furnished with a couple of couches, a few chairs, several electric guitars, and an amplifier. He has become a multi-millionaire, thanks to an inheritance that he never expected. Danny is still thinking about his ex-wife. He imagines she would have liked to be rich, and he feels sorry that she didn't have the opportunity. There's no sarcasm in his voice when he says this. Danny is, if anything, uncomfortably honest.
He wants to get in shape or, as he puts it, be able to take a punch. He goes to a local gym run by Trevor (Guy Pearce), who is a true believer in his four-tier system for fitness. Trevor lives alone with his dog, plays the drums, and has dreams of turning his small gym into an empire. He has his eye on a large space but doesn't have the money for it. One of his life philosophies is the idea of moving forward, and obviously, no one here can put that concept into practice.
Finally, there's Kat (Cobie Smulders), a personal trainer at Trevor's gym. She works seven days a week with clients. She wants more to her life but has no clue what that might be. She's unmarried and doesn't have a boyfriend, although she says she was sleeping with a guy not too long ago. She assumes that's finished. Kat becomes Danny's trainer, and there's a moment of impromptu but restricted passion ("No disrobing, ok?") between the two that Danny misinterprets as something more. After an awkward attempt at a proper date, Kat quits as Danny's trainer and tells Trevor, who is very protective of his employees and Kat in particular, what happened.
That's when things become complicated, although not in the ways one might expect. Writer/director Andrew Bujalski trusts these characters more than they trust themselves, and at times, that's a fascinating dynamic. Bujalski isn't afraid to exploit it, either. Each of the characters has not only equal time but also equal footing. A character can disappear from the story's sphere of focus and still have a tremendous influence on how the remaining two characters interact with each other.
The disappearing act happens for all three at different points in the film. It's an intriguing trick that emphasizes the fragility of these relationships, which seem primarily born out of proximity than any shared interests or experiences.
That notion is emphasized during a training montage (jokingly prompted by a passing reference to a famous sports film) that doubles as something of a life-passing montage. Danny goes about his routine of somewhat keeping up with his training, while Trevor's dream starts to take shape. He also starts a relationship with his real estate agent (Constance Zimmer) that ends almost as quickly as it begins (A movie less concerned with its characters would exploit this as a major subplot to bring about more conflict). It's a lovely and surprising extended moment that exists simply to give us something delicate and uncertain and fleeting.
We can spend some time away from these characters and still care about what happens to them because they are well-rounded. They have their own problems, their own desires, and their own, sometimes unclear motives. They're afraid. Danny doesn't want to get hurt again. They make excuses. Trevor doesn't want to start a relationship with an employee. They surrender when things get tough. Kat quits after a couple of clients give up on their training.
Bujalski clearly admires them for their faults and their potential. We like them for the same reasons and respect the fact that Bujalski doesn't force them to move forward before they're ready. Results trusts them, but more importantly, it trusts us.
Copyright © 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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