Simple Men

Simple Men ★★★½

"You mean the angry, dangerous, psychotic ex-husband?"
"Now just hold on. Jack may be dangerous, he may be psychotic, but I don't think he's angry."

I have a certain tolerance and appreciation for such laconic, 90s alternative films, although at 1hr45 this may have just exceeded it. I suppose this is a film about men making promises and goals, with their single-minded determination and calm confidence morphing into the quirky off-beat style captured here. Brothers lackadaisically trying to reconstruct their lives from the debris of romantic betrayals and paternal disappointments ("Long Island's a terminal moraine"). And in self-contained scenes of dialogue where it rhythmically bounced between two characters, I really feel into the groove of the tone and performances. Plus the compositions and colours here, especially the blue after-dark lighting, are very neat. Hartley appears like another filmmaker whose unique style (albeit one I can, superficially at least, recognise traces of in contemporary indie auteurs like Jarmusch and Lynch and Almereyda) I would appreciate with more immersion, even if Simple Men is a relatively pleasant and relaxed first step.

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