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Sorry, Thanks
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by Jay Seaver

"Not much to be sorry about."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FESTIVAL: The "mumblecore" generation is, perhaps, starting to get interesting. Digital video is both good and cheap enough that these movies no longer default to looking like a muddy mess. More importantly, the characters are starting to feel much more like interesting individuals, rather than generic artsy twentysomethings.

Take Max (Wiley Wiggins) and Kira (Kenya Miles). We meet them as they wake up after a one night stand. Max is kind of close to the stereotype, an artist frustrated by his job in a senator's San Francisco office. Kim is more outgoing and social, but she's just broken up with her boyfriend of seven years. They think it's a one-time thing, but it turns out that they move in the same circles - and it also turns out that Max has a girlfriend, Sara (Ia Hernandez).

Max gets most of the good lines, but it's Kira that turns out to be the interesting one. There's a surface-friendly sequence of her moving things out of her ex's apartment (we don't know what precipitated the break-up), and it's made clear that her new job as a copy editor is a step down from what she has been doing. We're watching someone scale back and otherwise rearrange her life, very deliberately, but without the usual rancor or grim determination that usually goes with such an activity. Miles navigates this nicely; she shows Kira's generally glass-half-full philosophy in a straightforward, unexaggerated manner. The cracks are also visible, whether they appear unbidden or in an oddly friendly act of romantic sabotage.

Another interesting thing director Dia Sokol (and her co-writer Lauren Veloski) does is resist the temptation to use Max and Sara to either validate or repudiate Kira's decision to back off from serious relationships. Even though we first see Max as he's cheating on Sara, they still seem like a good couple. Sara softens Max's tendencies toward sarcasm and obliviousness, and she seems genuinely fond of him both for reasons obvious and difficult to articulate. It's not a perfect relationship, but it's also one that seems to mostly work. They're good enough together for the audience to enjoy watching them, but also see Max, particularly, able to drift from it.

The performers do a nice job of selling it. I've described how much I like Miles as Kira; I like Hernandez as Sara for much the same reason: It's not a showy performance, but we get the character, right to the final scene, which she nails. Wiley Wiggins can't be quite so transparent as Max, since Max is is written as kind of weird. Andrew Bujalski and Garret Savage are enjoyable in the best friend roles.

Sokol and Veloski described "Sorry, Thanks" as a romantic comedy with the ending of a romantic drama in the Q&A, which is a good enough description, although it's not really about courtship as most romantic comedies are. Like most films of this movement, it doesn't seem to have much in the way of plot until the end, when you realized one or another character has made a decision about her life going forward.

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originally posted: 03/16/09 01:18:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

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  N/A (NR)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2010



Directed by
  Dia Sokol

Written by
  Dia Sokol
  Lauren Veloski

  Wiley Wiggins
  Kenya Miles
  Andrew Bujalski
  Ia Hernandez

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