Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mr Roosevelt (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
A comedian, says Emily (Noël Wells, who also writes and directs) is like an actress, but less attractive. It's a joke, she explains. But as friends note, she really doesn't have a lot of self esteem. She's the sort of person who falls into bed with strangers at the slightest hint of interest, and doesn't seem to get much out of it. Perhaps that's because she's still in love with her ex, Eric (Nick Thune), even though she dumped him and moved to another state. Now she's going home due to the sudden illness of their cat (the titular Mr Roosevelt), and she'll be forced to confront her old life.
This confrontation is rendered more difficult due to the fact she'll be staying in her old house with Eric and his new girlfriend Camille (Britt Lower), who is infuriatingly patient and considerate, avoids gluten, goes to a book group, and has encouraged Eric to give up his old band in favour of a burgeoning career in real estate. Through her, Eric has acquired a coterie of similarly super nice friends. Having dinner with them drives Emily into a tantrum. She's rescued by waitress Jen (Daniella Pineda), who has more sexual chemistry with her than any of the male characters, though the film never acknowledges this. Through Jen, she meets other happy-go-lucky locals who hold parties, smoke cannabis and seem to get more out of life. But Emily doesn't really fit in with them either; she just takes longer to figure that out.
A bitter yet affectionate comedy that delights in awkward situations, Mr Roosevelt is limited in its ambition but, as a result, gives this new writer/director room to focus on what she knows she can do well. Its strength is in its depiction of character. Everyone has a little more going on than is immediately apparent, and Wells' script does justice to all of them - she doesn't keep all the best material for herself or make the mistake of positioning one set of social values as superior to the other. The absence of a neat moral frame means that Emily is forced to find her own direction, which keeps the story much more interesting.
If there's something that makes this film stand out in a crowded self-deprecating hipster indie comedy market, it's its very comfortably female perspective. Men are present as love interest and - with the exception of Thune - little else. There's a lake party scene in which female characters remove their bikini tops, but the camera lingers on breasts only to the extent appropriate for a conversation about body-consciousness, and they're visible in all shapes and sizes. Emily's struggle to remove her own top brings a delightfully mundane element to the scene, and mirrors the fumbling in sex scenes which are both physically and socially clumsy.
Though it doesn't have much to say that's new, Mr Roosevelt finds wonderfully human moments in the most staid situations. It's playful and warm hearted and will make for many a happy night out.Reviewed on: 11 Nov 2017