I Am Not a Hipster


Several of the past decade’s best movie musicals—whether comic (School of Rock), sweet (Once), graceful (Our Beloved Month of August), or fanciful (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench)—have been about the joys of collaboration. The actors playfully challenge one another to raise their energy levels, the rest of the movie rises to meet them, and the audience is encouraged to dance along. By contrast, director Destin Daniel Cretton’s debut feature, I Am Not a Hipster, a drama with several musical sequences, mostly features just one character performing, with the others observing. When his or her energy drops, no one else picks it up. The film’s energy is frequently low, befitting that of its main character, a stalled, self-loathing, San Diego–based indie musician named Brook (Dominic Bogart), breathing contempt for anyone asking him personal questions. Brook’s aimlessness is given direction with the arrival of his three sisters, with whom he’s close; his father, with whom he’s distant; and the to-be-scattered ashes of his cremated mother, whose memory weighs him down. “I think I just remembered how fucking lonely I am,” he weeps in close-up in one scene. The title accurately reflects Brook’s constant self-involved, self-protective pose, but both he and the film tightly focused on him would have so much more fun if they just pulled back a little, looked around, and reached out.