Results

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Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Two mismatched personal trainers' lives are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client.
"Bujalksi’s film, ambling on at a languid pace which would offend the five-miles-a-day Trevor, gets some mileage out of poking fun at the spandex set and their self improvement mantras, even if they are an easy target."

King of the mumblecore land, AKA Andrew Bujalski, is back with his follow-up to his well-liked 2013 indie comedy Computer Chess, which was notable for recreating an irresistible 80s vibe with its lo-fi videotape aesthetic. Now Bujalski seems to be making a grab for the mainstream with this inoffensive tale of two mismatched personal trainers whose lives get upended by a wealthy slacker client. Though it undeniably lacks the unique visual charm and overall approach of Computer Chess, Results will at least go down a lot easier than Bujalski’s more offbeat earlier works, given it has a more recognisable (and good) cast and shoots softballs at a set of easy targets: the spandex-wearing, health-nut brigade.

Remember Brad Pitt’s incredibly chipper and incredibly annoying character from the Coen Brother’s Burn After Reading? Now imagine a film set entirely within his universe: that is a pretty fair way of summing up the vibe of Results. This is a dive into an off-key world, a world of the hard bodies, with their oxygenated water bottles, iPad armbands, and holistic flushes. Guy Pearce is Trevor, an Austin-based personal trainer with an “always-on” chipper outlook, who rocks a banana-yellow skintight tee and sports a whip-tight minimal-body-fat figure (Pearce acts and looks the part, having been a competitive amateur bodybuilder at one time). Every third word out of his mouth is a health metaphor, every movement is a crunch about to happen. Trevor works alongside the fiery, super-focused Kat (Cobie Smulders, a good foil to Pearce here). As acerbic as she is toned, Kat has no time for deadbeats who owe her money for her training sessions and she absolutely, positively will not accept quitters.

Bujalksi’s film, ambling on at a languid pace which would offend the five-miles-a-day Trevor, gets some mileage out of poking fun at the spandex set and their self improvement mantras, even if they are an easy target. What triggers the instability in this scenario though is someone from outside it: the slobbish, laconic and absurdly rich Danny a (a nicely preternatural Kevin Corrigan), who joins the gym seemingly on a whim after having noticed all the hard bodies through the window. Demanding personal sessions only so he doesn't have to leave his weirdly under-decorated mansion, Danny is assigned Kat by Trevor, who has half an eye on securing Danny’s wealth to fund his dream of running his own gym. But what does the morose, shuffling Danny really want? Is this a boredom killer? Does he just want Kat around so he can drool over her as she “works that core’” in front of him? And given Kat and Trevor once were an item, will Danny’s clumsy moves on Kat reignite old feelings?

Despite the mainstream leanings, Bujalski doesn’t ditch his idiosyncratic flair. Danny’s house, for example, is an intriguingly weird setting for most of the drama: it’s huge but empty, as if he couldn't be bothered to unpack, or maybe arrived with nothing. He seems to have no working furniture or appliances beyond the TV, eating chicken dinners on the spiral staircase and balancing his laptop on cardboard boxes. It is the kind of house a man with no idea what to do with money would own, which turns out to be the case, as Danny reveals he only inherited his money from a rich stepfather he never knew via a mother he had lost contact with. Danny himself is operating on a different frequency to humanity, much as Kat and Trevor are, he just isn't rocking a six pack.

It would be hard to argue that this cute, low-key comedy drama takes us to particularly enlightening places. It is pretty easy to see where the film is going thematically - like some of the screwball comedies of old, here we have the irony of a bunch of results-obsessed perfectionists, having mastered the art of honing their outer shells at the altar of self-improvement, demonstrating that they are way less skilled at handling the mushy feelings that lie inside. This is what having spent years focusing inwards on the “inner core” will do to you. Kat and Trevor’s toned physiques hide vulnerabilities and uncertainties, especially when it comes to how they feel about each other. Trevor hides his feelings behind his abs, protein shakes, and a volley of irritating health metaphors. Kat ducks behind cutting remarks for those she deems aren't up to her training regimen, even going so far as to suddenly turn apeshit crazy on a client who very politely suggests that he ends his training programme as he is happy with his beer gut, and wants more time with his wife. As for the outsider Danny, money is no shield or shortcut either. They can all work out, but can they work it out?

Far more laid back than the characters it is focusing on, Bujalksi’s film ultimately doesn’t try to stretch itself too far, but it works enough of the brain and laugh muscles to keep you involved.

Reviewed on: 29 May 2015
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Two mismatched personal trainers' lives are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client.
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