Film Review: “Jeff Who Lives At Home”

***OUT OF 4

Directed by The Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark, “Jeff Who Lives At Home” provides the viewer with a unique and indelible film experience.  As in “The Puffy Chair”, “Baghead” and “Cyrus” the filmmaker brothers present idiosyncratic behavior in a manner that entertains and enlightens without feeling contrived. In interviews they have revealed that the Belgian auteur Dardenne Brothers have influenced their storytelling style. This style is heavily realistic and follows a documentary mise en scene.

The titular character, Jeff (Jason Segel), is a 30 year old, pothead slacker who sleeps on a coach in his mother’s basement and looks for signs of coincidence from the universe as if he was in a M. Night Shyamalan movie. Assigned an errand by his doting and widowed mom (Susan Sarandon) to buy some glue we follow Jeff as his day becomes mired in a series of events that reach an unexpected level of commitment.

His unhappy brother Pat (an effective Ed Helms) enlists Jeff to spy on his cheating wife Linda (an affecting Judy Greer).  The sloth-like Jeff playing amateur detective is both amusing and funny as he uncovers the secret rendezvous of Pat’s wife and her lover. A sidebar story of sexual intrigue that involves Jeff’s mother while at her office job with Linda (Ray Dawn Chong) adds another level of complexity to this sweet whimsical tale.

The final act puts the entire ensemble cast on a bridge where a tragic accident unfolds. It is at this point that the movie changes tone and emotional poignancy. ”Jeff Who Lives At Home” causes us to wonder about the fate of its characters long after the we exit the theater. Its coincidental conclusion is a fitting end to this satisfying film.

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