Somebody Up There Likes Me
Director: Bob Byington
Writer: Bob Byington
Cast: Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler, Nick Offerman, Stephanie Hunt, Marshall Bell, Kate Lyn Sheil, Jonathan Togo, Megan Mullally
Part of: Viennale
Max’s (Keith Poulson) life is slowly passing him by. He is still attached to his ex-wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) who is not really interested in him anymore. Just to get by, he works as a waiter in a restaurant with Sal (Nick Offerman), where he meets Lyla (Jess Weixler). Lyla and Max hit it off, at least at first. But as the years pass, things develop differently than planned.
Somebody Up There Likes Me has all the hallmarks of a mumblecore movie, which are usually really not my cup of tea (though they do tend to draw me in) – with one crucial distinction: it wasn’t necessary for me to like Max to like this film. And that makes it very enjoyable.
My usual problem with mumblecore movies is that it’s all about the woes of rather well-off, white dudes who have pretty much everything handed to them but are too depressed to act on those chances, all the while behaving like completely immature assholes. And we are supposed to identify with them – which I have a hard time with. In this case, Max is exactly such an immature idiot, but at least everybody is aware of that and we’re not supposed to identify with Max. Or at least, it isn’t necessary to do it to enjoy it.
Instead I just leaned back and had fun watching the supporting cast do their thing. Lyla, Lyle (Jonathan Togo), the therapist (Megan Mullally) and of course Sal were wonderful characters and the cast was really excellent.
The movie has a very idiosyncratic, really cool atmosphere and rhythm that keeps you engaged and draws you in. That’s also in part because Byington manages to keep his film strangely timeless. I mean it is set around “now” but plus/minus ten years and it’s never really clear. It also doesn’t matter.
And to round things off, I really liked the soundtrack.
Summarising: I’m surprised by how much I liked this film. But like it I did.