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."
In "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men," Sara(Julianne Nicholson), a graduate student, interviews various men about their sex lives for her thesis, even secretly taping a couple of them(Christopher Meloni & Denis O'Hare) talking about sexually harassing a woman(Lorri Bagley) at an airport. And that's kind of the level of discourse she has to listen to, day in and day out. Added to that, as a woman, she is expected to be in a relationship with a man, hopefully not like her subjects but maybe like the one(Will Arnett) who is locked out of his apartment.(Or to take a more extreme example: In an early episode of "Homicide: Life on the Streets," Detective Kay Howard(Melissa Leo) confides to a therapist about her conflicting feelings about men, after, as a homicide detective, seeing the worst they have to offer.) Newly single, people comment on Sara's wardrobe and her haircut and her professor(Timothy Hutton) suggests she should be more sociable. As intriguing as this might sound and despite incredibly and inventively realizing the cinematic potential in such material, the movie sadly never quite goes beyond the conceptual level. And I think a lot of that has to do with never hearing Sara's questions to hear what she is so curious about, so she sadly remains little more than a cipher. Like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy" points out, sometimes the questions are just as important as the answers.
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