Tumbledown is one of those movies where a quirky man meets a quirky woman and it’s instantly obvious they’ll end up together.
Hannah (Rebecca Hall) is the widow of Hunter Miles, a moody folk singer. Andrew (Jason Sudeikis), a pop-culture scholar and college professor, hopes to write a book on Miles and his legacy — and is rebuffed in all his initial attempts to contact Hannah. But the two end up striking something of an agreement to work together (don’t expect to see the writing process), and Hannah’s icy personality begins to melt until the film reaches its inevitable romantic denouement.
Hall, with her pouty, quizzical face and tart delivery, gives a somewhat compelling performance as a rather frustrating character. Hannah antagonizes Andrew in over-the-top ways: She steals his notebook before they even meet and later rips pages out in front of him. Yes, being a young widow would be emotionally frazzling, but you have to wonder how Andrew never becomes totally fed up.
As they grow closer, the film ignores the fate of Andrew’s bland blonde girlfriend (Dianna Agron). We get most of what we need to know of Andrew when we see the whiteboard he stands in front of in the classroom — “Tupac, Biggie, & Foucault.”
Tumbledown has some funny moments — e.g., an early sex scene between Hannah and her buff hookup (Joe Manganiello, using a generic “foreign hunk” accent) interrupted by a phone call — but overall, the film would do well to commit more assiduously to a tone. Neither comedy nor melodrama (though bearing traces of both), Tumbledown ends up a modest study of two fairly unremarkable, prickly characters.
Directed by Sean Mewshaw
Starz Digital Entertainment
Opens February 5, Angelika Film Center
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 2, 2016