The Bigger Picture: It's a risky move for writer/director John Krasinski (you know him from The Office) to adapt the late David Foster Wallace's literary catalogue of monologues about the sexual lives of men into a feature film. There are some small rewards here, but the big risk doesn't quite pay off
The Bigger Picture: If you're going to adapt the work of a literary wünderkind David Foster Wallace, then the movie better be good—because Wallace was great. At it's best, Brief Interviews is just OK. It offers a scattershot of memorable scenes executed by a talented ensemble, but ultimately feels unnecessary and somehow less than enjoyable.
Wallace's book—comprised of 23 short stories—operates without plot and relies entirely on the lyrical introspection of unnamed characters. The film works along similar lines but tries admirably to craft a storyline out of Wallace's amorphous mass.
A beautiful grad student, (Julienne Nichols) who we're led to suspect has gone through some recent trauma, interviews males friends, colleagues, and strangers about their relationship to women and sex. We don't hear the questions she asks, so part of the fun—and frustration—is guessing what the men are responding to.
The mortal flaw of the movie is, predictably, Wallace's writing. The actors are essentially reading off the page, and every character talks more or less the way Wallace wrote. So you have 17 different actors, not only sounding the same, but also struggling to get their mouths around Wallace's ornate sentences and bookish syntax.
Krasinski, though, turns out to be a solid director; the beats, cuts, and pace of the movie are all offbeat but skillfully done. Under his hand, Brief Interviews occasionally brushes up against brilliance (as with a expertly done montage of all the lies one man has told every woman he's loved), but too often feels like it's groping at some level of depth that it simply can't reach.
The 180—a Second Opinion: The cast is supremely talented, and though they may stumble over Wallace's words, each monologue is impressively performance. Particularly, Dominic Cooper and Josh Charles, who are show-stealers.
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