Andrew Bujalski has been a fixture of American independent cinema for the past two decades. After helping to pioneer the “mumblecore” movement with his 2002 debut “Funny Ha Ha,'” the writer/director has continued to be a sporadic presence on the festival circuit with films like “Mutual Appreciation” and “Support the Girls.” But while his latest film, “There There,” shares a lo-fi, dialogue-driven aesthetic with his other films, it is also his most technically ambitious undertaking to date.
The film is comprised of a series of conversations between an ensemble cast, but due to COVID restrictions (the film was shot over a six-month period in 2021), no two actors were ever in the same room during their scenes. Bujalski worked with one actor at a time, essentially turning the film into a series of monologues that gave his script and the actors nowhere to hide.
“To me, this was an essential cinema experiment,” Bujalski told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn in a recent interview. “It was something, to some degree, you could’ve done 100 or 50 years ago. I grew up with this notion that the camera is a documentary device and editing is a narrative device. It’s kind of bullshit when you cut between things. This was a way to take something that had always fascinated me about editing and push it to an extreme, then build a story around that.”
The official synopsis for “There There” describes the film as “a round robin of emotional two-character vignettes in which seven people reach out and bond momentarily, setting the scene for the next encounter. A pair of new lovers, a woman and her AA sponsor, a teacher and a parent, a lawyer and his client, and more, move from scene to scene, changing partners and beginning a new dance of discovery as they do.”
“There There” is written and directed by Andrew Bujalski. Its cast includes Jason Schwartzman, Lili Taylor, Lennie James, Annie La Ganga, Avi Nash, Angela Bedekovic, Molly Gordon, Jasmine Skloss Harrison, Jon Natchez, and Roy Nathanson.
Magnolia Pictures will release “There There” in theaters and on VOD on Friday, November 18. Watch the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below: