Tumbledown – Sean Mewshaw
The market for standard formula romantic comedies is as saturated as ever, and in the opening moments of Tumbledown, it feels like we are going to get another. The film begins with Hannah (Rebecca Hall) at a desk in front of a laptop, and we get a voiceover and some melancholy music that won't win over any discerning viewers. Tumbledown finds its way though, and contains lots of bright moments.
Hannah is stuck in limbo, mourning the death of her husband, Hunter Miles; a 'genius' musician who released one album before tragically falling to his death while climbing in the mountains of Maine. She employs Andrew (Jason Sudeikis), a pop culture professor and lover of Hunter's music - written and performed by Damien Jurado - to help her write the biography.
That is a pretty good premise for a romantic comedy-drama, but instead of leaving the audience engaged in the core of the story, the debut screenwriter (Desiree Van Til) and director (Sean Mewshaw) throw a bunch of genre tropes into the mix. Each of the main characters are weighed down by a previous casual relationship. Hannah regularly sleeps with a friend from high school (Joe Manganiello) - which makes for some of the most cringe-worthy scenes in the film, and Andrew is dating what appears to be one of his students (Dianna Agron) - though it isn't exactly clear. Neither of these characters encourage or stunt the overall development of Andrew and Hannah's relationship, and they are haphazardly thrown aside later in the film, never to reappear. Just as their relationship develops to a point of romance, Andrew's theory that Hunter committed suicide provides a convenient complication, which resolves itself later on. This then results in Hannah chasing Andrew's car down on a quad bike as he is leaving town.
Despite its faults, Tumbledown deals with an interesting subject matter, and its two lead actors are well suited. They both play the stubborn, quick witted character very well, and in the film's best scenes Rebecca Hall shows off her ability playing the athletic, independent country girl. She is intimidating and stubborn, rarely showing any signs of weakness. The dramatic moments are moving, and feel much more real and emotionally charged than the cheesy slapstick lines that pepper much of the film. The comedy works best when it is visual, like when Andrew gets locked out of Hannah's cabin chasing her dogs, or the horny quad bike riding teenager shows off in the back of the frame during a crucial moment. Jason Sudeikis is excellent as Andrew, who despite his own agenda comes across as tender and kind, always open. He knows what he wants but he doesn't, and rides this line throughout the film, eventually conceding in the latter stages "I just like it when you say things". This is what Tumbledown really is about; the constant struggle to analyse everything, to know the answers, to have absolutes. Sometimes life is inexplicable, and that's okay.
Name: Sam Walsh