Jeff, Who Lives At Home (2012) Directed by Mark and Jay Duplass. Starring: Jason Segel, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon. IMDB says: “Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife. “
I came out of this film feeling better than what I did going in and that’s the point of this film. It’s the Duplass Brothers (Jay and Mark, who wrote and directed this film) way of saying, “Hey, it’s okay. It’s all going to work itself out and in the end, no matter what, you’re going to be okay.” Granted, we have to watch Jeff (an awesome performance by Jason Segel) Pat (a true to form Ed Helms) and their mother, Sharon (a surprising performance from Susan Sarandon) trudge through another day of their complicated lives, but in the end, we come out learning something about ourselves; who we are and where we’re going. A very minimalist film in terms of camerawork, cinematography, and score, this film belongs to the actors. The film is paced just right, weaving in and out of our characters stories and it never misses a beat. It’s humorous when it needs to be and poignant when it counts. Easily one of my favorite films so far this year, be sure to catch this one in theaters.
I agree wholeheartedly with everything Nick says above and you can see that reflected in our scores. I would just be remissed to let this review go without emphasizing how much I truly enjoyed and cared for this film. Jeff, Who Lives At Home really caught me off guard in a way most movies are incapable of achieving. My previous encounter with the Duplass Brothers was with their 2005 film The Puffy Chair, which, while a decent movie, had a tiny budget resulting in a low production value. It’s hard to not think “student film” when watching a movie like that, but I saw potential in their ability to depict human experiences with a dose of humor and nuance.
They really got it right with Jeff. The production isn’t really the showcase here, and I can see why many would be annoyed with their camera style which can be jerky with sporadic zooming. The triumph is in the clever and perceptive script brought to life by several top-of-their game actors. The characters in this film are so well-rounded and likeable even when they are thick-headed, naive, or moping that you completely enjoy everything they offer.
The best part of this film is easily Jason Segel, who has the same charm and comedic timing that makes him fun to watch, while exhibiting a level of emotional depth that I hadn’t seen before. He is the idealistic catalyst that moves this story forward and makes you enjoy the incredibly unrealistic chain of events without even feeling an urge to suspend your belief. You don’t need to because you are just as excited as Jeff to see where his destiny is pushing him.
The point of this movie is a familiar, well-tread concept–what’s the purpose of our own lives–but the story is so deft and endearing that you leave feeling impacted just the same.