Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009)
Critic Consensus: Ambitious but uneven, John Krasinski's adaptation of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men tries hard but doesn't match the depth of the book.
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Critic Reviews for Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Faced with the unenviable choice between honoring his daunting inspiration and telling his own story, the director shoots straight down the middle -- and misses both targets.
Offers is the opportunity for a bunch of actors, many of them tethered to TV series, to deliver theatrical monologues pulsing with misogyny and narcissism. It's like second-rate Neil Labute.
I worry that this film is static enough and stiff enough that it's going to keep people away from discovering David Foster Wallace if they haven't read him.
Tthough this experiment doesn't quite succeed, there's enough intelligence and insight in this movie to make it worth the attempt.
[Krasinski's] generosity of intent is really the main impression that remains. He read, he loved, and unfortunately, he did not conquer.
Audience Reviews for Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
A woman interviews men about their relationships with women and feminism.
Throughout most of the first act of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men I had no idea where it was going, and worse, I didn't care. Julianne Nicholson acted like Julianne Nicholson usually does - awkward and lost, drawn to expectation and thwarted by disappointment. And the stories in the first act were banal in the way one might expect - creepy in some cases, but overall, not extraordinary.
Then, at the beginning of what should have been the second act (this film's structure is strange because it seemed like they skipped act two), there is a story about a man whose father worked as a bathroom attendant to support his family. John Krasinski's direction allows the older son to confront his younger father about his sacrifices, and the result is touching and compelling. The film takes off from there, the stories getting more and more interesting and the protagonist's goal more and more clear. Krasinski's final monologue proves him to be a strong dramatic actor.
However, I did think that the dialogue, much of which must have been copied out of David Foster Wallace's book, seemed like it was written by an actor who wanted the opportunity to read what he read in public, not the result of a conscious dramatic choice.
Overall, I liked the last half of this film even though it's a true "actors movie."
It's quite simple really: I love it when a play is adapted to screen and maintains its stage-intended qualities. I usually loathe a multiplot; they are just too simple a trick. But in this this instance, it's not just a gimmick to garner awards, it's a conscious decision that creates the disjointed nature of the overall piece. In other words, the multiplot approach serves this film and its themes very well. I can see many loathing it and viewing it as a waste of time, but I was reeled into these confessions and these candid stories these men tell. Really, there is no central story, and the "main character" is utterly flat and ultimately unlikable, but I really did not care because I was too entranced by the language and its delivery.
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