Listen Up Philip


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Elizabeth Moss and Jason Schwarzman in Listen Up Philip
"The moments of distinctly sub-Woody Allenesque humour make you dream of what might have been." | Photo: Sean Price Williams

Set amid the bitchy world of the New York literarti Alex Ross Perry’s third feature has a limited appeal. The moments of distinctly sub-Woody Allenesque humour make you dream of what might have been. it even has a jazzy score in the mould of the master.

If the writing was sharper and the characters more sympathetic then it would have zinged along rather than proceeding as a laborious trundle.

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The eponymous Philip (Jason Schwartzman) is a narcissistic and charmless writer who is angry with just about anyone who comes in to his field of vision. This includes his current girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss) who gives him far more tolerance than he deserves.

Devastated by the news that the New York Times is about to give his latest opus an excruciatingly caustic review, he goes in to anger overdrive. The saving grace comes with a convenient encounter with an eminent writer Ike Zimmerman (a lagubrious Jonathan Pryce) who opines that he adores the book and would like to meet him.

With his vanity suitably bolstered, he agrees to stay with him at his summer-house in upstate New York, encounters his sparky daughter (Krysten Ritter), and chews the literary fat with his mentor and assorted friends.

Meanwhile, his already precarious personal life in the city falls apart even further, as Ashely buys a cat as a boyfriend substitute, and reconciles herself to singleton status.

Perry moves the focus from the one protagonist to another before finally coming back to Philip. With a two-hour running time, however, there is too much time to reflect on the vacuity of the participants and their self-indugent escapades. Frankly, who cares?

Listen Up Philip is set for theatrical release in the US on 17 October followed by video on demand release a week later.

Reviewed on: 13 Aug 2014
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Listen Up Philip packshot
An angry writer and his relationships.
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