Exclusive: Bujalski’s final ensemble piece was shot without two actors ever being together in the same room.
Andrew Bujalski has been a staple of American independent cinema for two decades. After helping launch the “mumblecore” movement with his 2002 debut “Funny Ha Ha,” the writer/director continued to be a sporadic presence on the festival circuit with films like “Mutual Appreciation” and “Support the Girls. “. But while his latest film, “There There,” shares a dialogue-driven, lo-fi aesthetic with his other films, it’s also his most technically ambitious endeavor to date.
The film is made up of a series of conversations between an ensemble cast, but due to COVID restrictions (the film was shot over a six-month period in 2021), no actor was ever in the same room. during their scenes. Bujalski worked with one actor at a time, essentially turning the film into a series of monologues that gave his script and actors nowhere to hide.
“For me, it was an essential cinematic experience,” Bujalski told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn in a recent interview. “It was something, to some extent, that you could have done 100 or 50 years ago. I grew up with this idea that the camera is a documentary device and that editing is a narrative device. It’s kind of bullshit when you cut between things. It was a way of taking something that had always fascinated me in editing and taking it to the extreme, and then building a story around it.
The official synopsis for “There There” describes the film as “a round robin of emotional two-character vignettes in which seven people reach out and momentarily bond, setting the stage for the next encounter. A pair of new lovers, a wife and his AA sponsor, teacher and parent, lawyer and client, and more, move from scene to scene, changing partners and beginning a new dance of discovery as they do.
“There There” is written and directed by Andrew Bujalski. Its cast includes Jason Schwartzman, Lili Taylor, Lennie James, Angela Bedekovic, Molly Gordon, Jasmine Skloss Harrison, Jon Natchez and Roy Nathanson.
Magnolia Pictures will release “There There” in theaters and on VOD on Friday, November 18. Watch the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below: