Kent (Kent Osborne) is working on an animated film. His life is rather withdrawn. He gets occasional visits from his nephew Joe (Joe Swanberg) and otherwise spends a lot of time online. Direct personal encounters usually end rather awkwardly. Through ChatRoulette he meets Kate (Jennifer Prediger). Since she has to spend the weekend in the city, Kent offers that she can stay at his place. Kate accepts. Although she has a boyfriend, it becomes clear pretty quickly that Kent would like their meeting to become romantic.
Uncle Kent is a weird film, somewhere between fiction and reality. I probably would have never seen it, if the /slash Filmfestival hadn’t announced that they’d be showing the sequel. But I am glad I did.
From what I gather, Kent Osborne really is Joe Swanberg’s uncle. And he works as an animator (among other things, he’s working on Adventure Time). And they shot this at his actual house. All of this gives this film a sense of privacy that could have easily felt voyeuristic and exploitative, but ends up feeling engaging and precious: something was shared with us that didn’t have to be shared.
The film sounds like an exercise in mumblecore (which I am not a fan of – it usually irritates and/or bores me) and nothing much happens in it, which should make it boring as fuck. But its frankness makes it absolutely endearing. It probably wouldn’t have worked if I hadn’t liked both Kent and Kate as much as I did. I was interested in them, even in the small details that aren’t actually that exciting. And they made me laugh.
There is an element of wish-fulfillment to the film with the introduction of Josephine (Josephine Decker) which I could have done without as it feels a little out of place in the groundedness of the rest of the film. But even that part is ultimately charming as it never makes [on-screen persona] Kent into more (or less) than he is.
My first impression of the film was that it’s nice, nothing more, but I found myself being drawn back to it in my thoughts ever since I saw it. It’s definitely been growing on me, a lot, even if I can understand anyone who doesn’t fall into the film as much as I did.