Sundance Film Review: Listen Up Phillip

Posted January 22, 2014 in
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Photo courtesy of: Sean Price Williams

Listen Up Phillip
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Alex Ross Perry

I haven’t laughed as consistently through an entire film as I did with Listen Up Philip. In this comedy, Jason Schwartzman stars as Phillip, a self-centered, egotistical New York writer who is about to release his second novel. His idol Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce), a much older and more successful novelist, takes Philip under his wing and teaches him how to be a true self-centered, egotistical New York writer. Philip’s relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elizabeth Moss) turns from ambivalent to hateful when he retreats to the country to write, then takes an upstate teaching job he isn’t qualified for. Alex Ross Perry uses a fast-paced vérité approach, narration, a cool jazz soundtrack and super-witty, literary dialogue to examine the meaninglessness of a cliché young, misunderstood writer’s life. Every line from every character is perfect and the acting is flawlessly believable—Schwartzman’s over-the-top eloquence in describing the tenets of Philip’s misanthropy makes the film, but the great performances by the rest of the cast provide a loveable balance to the two miserable, piece-of shit writers you love to hate. This is one of the best narrative features I’ve seen at Sundance, or anywhere, for that matter. All aspects of the film are excellent, but the writing is the biggest accomplishment—Perry could publish this screenplay as a novel and I’d buy it. –Cody Kirkland

Screening Times: 
Wednesday, Jan. 22 — 5:30 p.m. • The MARC, Park City
Thursday, Jan. 23 — 8:30 a.m. • Prospector Square Theatre, Park City
Friday, Jan. 24 — 6:00 p.m. • Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City

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