The relationship we moviegoers have with romantic comedies is like the relationship we have with a waiter: All we expect is to be served what we ordered, with a minimum of complications. But Results—the latest from Andrew Bujalski—rejects the meet-cute, the lyrical pitter-patter dialogue, and the conspicuously swanky wardrobes that we associate with those movies. Bujalski has the audacity to deviate from the recipe.
Trevor (Guy Pearce) and Kat (Cobie Smulders) are the entangled pair. He owns a new-age-y gym in Austin, and she’s his grumpiest employee—the one who rejects his beliefs. They set off one another’s insecurities, which means they’re incurably attracted to one another. At work they bicker and push each other around with a tender physicality that quietly asks: Are we going to sleep together tonight? But they’re both too guarded to show any vulnerability, so the answer is usually no.
Then Danny (Kevin Corrigan) walks in for some weight training. He just got divorced, and then he got rich. His self-aware schlubbiness charms Kat for a minute or two—they smoke pot and make out—but she breaks it off after a single night. She expects him to cancel his gym membership. Instead he buys a stake in the business. Bujalski’s script leads us through some rather unlikely scenarios (like that one), some of which would fit well in a Katherine Heigl movie. But the director isn’t after swoons. He’s trying to pin down the ways that people communicate with each other, or—more often—how they fail to.
And with Results he’s managed to visually represent the very act of meeting someone in a way that’s elegant and astute. The early parts of the movie often feature the characters alone in their homes, but they begin to invade each other’s space more often as their affairs pile up. During the first scenes Kat and Danny spend together, they’re on opposite sides of a room, in long shots composed from a distance. The shots inch closer up in each sequence, and with it, their bodies inch closer to each other—as if even the viewers behind the frame were tentative to get acquainted with these damaged souls.
Standard operating procedure dictates that romcoms ingratiate the audience: The photography should be simple, the leads should be underwear models, the humor should be broad. But Bujalski is too honest for that. He sees ugliness too: Danny leering at Kat online, or Kat abusing anyone who doesn’t acquiesce to her alpha-ness. With the deliberate images and the occasionally repellent script, he’s crafting a movie that draws you in naturally—one that you have to accept with its quirks, as these characters do each other.
He’s replaced the hallmarks of the genre with the verbal awkwardness and spiritual messiness of real life. When the two guys first hang out, it’s after an argument. Danny just leaves his door open—he lets Trevor decide whether or not he wants to come in. Results offers us the same choice, and the effect is liberating.
RESULTS. RATED R. AVAILABLE ON VIDEO-ON-DEMAND PLATFORMS STARTING 5.29. OPENING AT THE KENDALL SQUARE THEATRE ON 6.5.