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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Person to Person
Person to Person
Magnolia Home Entertainment // Unrated // October 31, 2017
List Price: $14.89 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Olie Coen | posted December 16, 2017 | E-mail the Author


Director: Dustin Guy Defa
Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Tavi Gevinson, Michael Cera
Year: 2017

The director of this movie has one of the coolest names in the industry, a perfect moniker for a filmmaker. And he can even go by his initials, DGD, which sounds just as awesome. Luckily, his second feature, and the first to have a real chance at being seen by national audiences, is as hip as his nombre, at least in a unique, indie way, which fits as well. Person to Person is a New York City adventure, a day in the life of various residents that reflects quite accurately, if over-dramatically, the troubles we can all get ourselves into by just living, by simply existing in a world that never delivers exactly what you would expect.

The Movie

We are about to meet a number of NYC residents, to follow them around on one chaotic day that encapsulates their struggles to make it in a city that doesn't seem to function in a sane manner. Theft, murder, sexuality; you never know what you might come face to face with around each corner, or who might push you in a direction you didn't know you'd be heading down when you woke up in the morning. Life is unpredictable, sure, but never more so than in a big city filled with millions of individual souls that might attract you, push you, challenge you, or possibly even change your life.

Claire is an introvert, a librarian at heart, but she's trying her hand at a uniquely extroverted job. Phil is her new boss, a reporter who cruises the streets listening to metal music while trying to uncover the next big story. They hit the town to solve a suicide, but neither might be cut out for the gig. An elderly watch and clock repairman is a piece of the unraveling story, but doesn't want any part of it. Wendy skips school to hang out with her best friend, but Melanie just wants to make out with her boyfriend. And a pair of jazz enthusiasts try to score the same record, only to be bamboozled. Events swirl in the Big Apple; hang on tight.

This film is an odd combination of Good Time and Wild Canaries, a crime adventure that explores the city and its denizens, but also an indie comedy that no one will see to enjoy. Also, and I'm sure this affects my thinking of those two films to compare this one to, both Benny Safdie and Buddy Duress appear in both Person to Person and Good Time, while director DGD has a role in Wild Canaries (he's also in an episode of Easy, if you've ever watched that Netflix original). So there are physical connections, but also stylistic ones, if you're looking for comparisons to get a feel for the story.

It's a silly plot in many ways; a murder/suicide investigated by fools, an angry vinyl dealer chasing a kid with a terrible haircut and asking everyone he meets about the quality of his own shirt, a possible lesbian attempting to figure out if she's in love with her friend, if she hates everyone equally, or if she wants to make out with some dude. It makes little sense, although it doesn't really need to, it's a mix of moments that show what daily life can bring. The acting is solid from all involved, with Philip Baker Hall popping up for a small role, with Michael Cera being his usual, awkward self. It's an easy watch, a short watch, something you might not remember for long but also something that can make a small impression in a small amount of time.

The DVD

Video: With an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 Widescreen, the video quality is poor but it also doesn't need to be any better. It's an indie film, it's supposed to be a little grainy, it's supposed to look a little cheap and not like a Hollywood blockbuster. The cinematography is focused on the characters and the city, not on stunning visuals, so don't expect too much.

Audio: The DVD was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, with subtitle choices of English SDH or Spanish. That's it for the audio, and the quality is just as forgettable, nothing major wrong but no highlights either. The soundtrack is the same, not impactful in any way; just focus on the dialogue, since that's the important feature anyway.

Extras: There are only a handful of features on the disc, including an interview with the writer/director and four trailers; Person to Person, Lemon, Lucky, Whose Streets?.

Final Thoughts

Recommended. Although enjoyable in an off-beat way, this film is also a bit unnecessary, a story about life that you could nod to but would never stand up to applaud for. It's funny and serious in turn, which is fairly accurate, and so feels heartfelt and real, but it just never delivers the punch needed to take it to any other level than 'fine'. The video, audio, and extras are overlooked, so don't expect any technical marvels or redeeming qualities in the physical features. But watch if you're curious or if you're already a fan of this style of indie comedy; for that genre, this movie is well-made.

Olie Coen
Archer Avenue
archeravenue.net

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