Critics' Pick

Person to Person (NR)

Drama 84 min. July 28, 2017
By Alan Scherstuhl
The first surprise in Person to Person, a day-in-the-life-of ensemble indie, is that even though it opens with a 40-ish beardo rousing from bed thrilled to spend a weekday chasing down a rare Charlie Parker LP, the movie is not a satire. In fact, that beardo sees himself as something like the Tom Joad of the vinyl world: "I've got love for it," he says. "I find records, I collect them, I sell them to people who have that same love inside." As beatific Benny, Bene Coopersmith invests the lines with a guileless earnestness, and since the film's crate-digging soundtrack is all lost R&B gems, you know that writer-director Dustin Guy Defa (Bad Fever) doesn't think this is a joke. Defa knows it's all a little funny, of course — forced to give chase to a low-level crook, Benny has to take the time to unlock his bicycle from a signpost.

Person to Person is a gently comic slices-of-life drama, the kind where a variety of people's conflicting, occasionally overlapping experiences of the city come together into a messy whole. Benny's shut-in roommate, Ray (George Sample III), flees a man who wants to break his legs, and teen pals Wendy (Tavi Gevinson) and Melanie (Olivia Luccardi) skip school to hang out at Melanie's house — and then face a crisis of friendship. These playfully inconsequential stories are set against a darker thread involving a possible murder — and the cast's biggest names. On her first day as a junior reporter, Abbi Jacobson's hesitant Claire gets paired with Michael Cera's friendless showoff Phil; Defa's film might not be satiric, but every Cera performance is a parody of masculine frailty.
Dustin Guy Defa Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson, Philip Baker Hall, Michaela Watkins, Tavi Gevinson Dustin Guy Defa Sara Murphy, Toby Halbrooks, James Johnston Magnolia Pictures

Watch the Trailer

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >