Adventures of a Desultory Twentysomething
Most of the ha-has in Funny Ha Ha are not exactly funny: Andrew Bujalski's debut feature is foremost a squirming comedy of recognition. This Boston ultra-indiewhich Bujalski wrote, directed, edited, and co-starred inslouches through the blurry limbo of post-collegiate existence, a period at once ephemeral and cruelly decisive. It opens with 23-year-old heroine Marnie (Kate Dollenmayer) stumbling into a tattoo parlor, where the proprietor refuses to ink her because she's plastered. This movie about the fear of the permanentand the barely conscious, unwittingly reckless processes behind life-altering decisionsmight be subtitled "The Possibly Indelible Adventures of a Desultory Twentysomething." Structured around non-event and inaction, Funny Ha Ha recalls Jamie Thraves's 2000 British indie The Low Down, a neglected mini-masterpiece of quarter-life malaise. Bujalski's film likewise thrums with ambivalent dreadunderlying the characters' inert indecision is a reluctance to let the rest of their lives begin, not least for fear that it might prove an undifferentiated haze. The final scene is as close to perfection as any Amerindie has come in recent memoryin a single reaction of Marnie's, we see a small but definite shift in perspective; abruptly, Bujalski stops the film, as if there's nothing more to say. It's a wonderful parting shot for a movie that locates the momentous in the mundane.
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