With his big screen reputation exploding with parts in Sam Mendes’ “Away We Go” and Nancy Meyers’s “It’s Complicated,” “The Office” star John Krasinski gets behind the camera for an adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s short story collection “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.” The film, Krasinski’s debut as a screenwriter and director, premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The film centers on a young graduate student, Sara (Julianne Nicholson), who is doing her thesis on the male psyche. As she gets deeper into her interviews with various men (played by Will Forte, Dominic Cooper, Bobby Cannavale, Timothy Hutton, John Krasinski, Christopher Meloni, and more), she becomes more and more dejected with the truth of human relationships. In an interview with indieWIRE, Krasinski said that he’s wanted to adapt the book since he first heard the words spoken aloud in a reading. The film opens in limited release tomorrow.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s James Greenberg raves about the film, saying “Not since ‘In the Company of Men’ has the male gender been so ruthlessly portrayed on screen. Taking Wallace’s chapter-by-chapter interviews and cutting them into interwoven fragments, Krasinski…has managed to create an unconventional narrative flow. Ingeniously structured and beautifully acted, the film at times is a bit clinical but never less than compelling.” Eric Kohn‘s indieWIRE review focuses on the work of people other than Krasinski in the feel of the film, “Fortunately, the actors—including Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard and Will Arnett—get plenty of space to dominate the screen. Jon Brion’s chilled out score helps fix the uneasy transitions, but ‘Hideous Men’ lacks consistent emotional resonance, and doesn’t exactly aim to please impatient audiences. Then again, neither did Wallace.”
David Edelstein of New York Magazine is less enthused, “Sara is a less-than-dynamic center; many of the men’s revelations don’t feel motivated; and with actors in close-up looking straight into the camera, you can’t get away from all the acting. ” Echoing Edelstein’s sentiment is Cinematical‘s Scott Weinberg, “Some movies feel like stage plays. This one feels like 25 very brief stage plays jammed together — maybe five of which are worth sitting through.”
Chuck Wilson, in the Village Voice calls the film a “disaster.” His issue is with the translation of a literary master of convoluted prose into an 80-minute film. He says, “Wallace used language—often ornately academic—as a kind of protective padding for his interviewees, and the reader, at his own pace, must dig deep to find the essential truths. Filmmakers, even great ones, are always battling the clock, a dilemma that left Krasinski little choice but to cut each monologue down to its core events. The stilted storytelling that results often rings false, and in the end, the monologues—delivered by some very good actors, who come across as first-year theater students acting out scenes from their favorite novels—don’t add up to much.”