I just read the NY TImes review and it was -literally (a much maligned word)- the WORST REVIEW I have ever read! I came to read the Voice review hoping it would be better (it's not possible for it to be worse, NY Times was the hacky-est review, and to call it substandard is to grossly understate it, it was even factually erroneous about the movie, mistakenly calling dialogue a voice-over). I was disappointed to see that the Voice review was similarly negative (the Times review, though, was seriously egregious and was actually odious).
However, I was heartened to see that the reviews from the commenters was SO POSITIVE...
I'm usually very critical of indie films and mumblecore. But I think that this film actually has legitimately artistic merits. I felt so after I finished watching it, and that impression has been reinforced by reading the reviews. The fact that the NY Times reviewer could refer so casually to a bachelor party an orgy, when it more accurately a commercial transaction between two sex workers and a group of men -- with the emphasis clearly on the transactional part of the equation and with the whole movie basically about the damage such a transaction was causing to the lives of two young women who are clearly very troubled, one who is a survivor of horrific childhood abuse. To dismiss this as an "orgy" is to miss the WHOLE point of the movie, and yes, it does have one.
One thing that is kind of interesting is the way that the movie never clues you in to the nature of the relationship between these three people, and you assume that they are average people/hipsters in New York City, which plays very realistically. These seemed like real people. Screwed up people yes, but there are lots of those people in the world, and this was a certain species of NYC screwed-up pretty-people/hipsters. The big reveal at the end makes perfect sense, but you don't see it coming (unless you read a spoiler, which I did not). But it also serves as a metaphor, and strikes a similar chord as a movie like the Ice Storm (which I didn't like particularly well, but which depicted a certain kind of disaffected suburbia that I think in a way is similar). Or maybe a bit like that movie Little Children. This movie is about something being wrong. But it's not JUST in the lives of these characters... There's something bigger being shown here.... The tv show Friends is used as a cultural reference to depict the context of artificiality and disconnect. As one commenter/reviewer mentioned, the scene where Keanue and one of the female characters stand so close together, and take such a long time to embrace in a hug, providing, if not solace than at least some contact is actually really well depicted and everyone can relate to that hesitation and isolation. That Times review really made me feel like the reviewer ***did not have a soul*** and not because it was a negative review, but because it was SO CALOUS pretty much exactly the thing that was being shown in the movie. Do I think it was a great movie? Maybe, but I don't think it was the greatest movie ever. But the negative critical reaction makes me think that maybe it's hitting a nerve that we should examine more closely. Bachelor parties with some form of sex-worker are practically a rite of passage and prostitution is something that touches many lives, and this film depicts the unglamorous, very real price that is paid by your "service workers" who are in fact real (if perhaps emotionally desperate) people. These are people on the far end of the spectrum, but they are not so different from you and I, just a little further along on the scale of emotional isolation. I thought the performances by the two lead actresses were very compelling and realistic, I have known many girls (who were not sex-workers, just average women) who were startlingly similar to the characters depicted. I think this was a good, realistic, insightful movie.
"What is the movie about? It's about loneliness in a crowd, probably. About pain. About hope. About proximity. The movie is about just one day, and about the whole life. It's as little as very much at the same time. The movie starts and ends same — the three friends come home from work. " -- I agree with this (although I don't think it has quite the resolution that the commenter/review felt was there... I don't think this movie has a resolution, just "life goes on" and these people are trying to get by the best they know how, which is not very well. Something that's true of a lot of people, to varying degrees).