Brief Interviews with Hideous Men: The Remix

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09/23/2009 4:00 AM |

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Directed by John Krasinski

David Foster Wallace’s Hideous Men are more monologists than interviewees, really: the confessions or boasts that comprise the eponymous linked stories are stylized, calibrated build-ups of ulterior motives and unforced errors, fetishes and hangups, self-awareness and self-delusion. Incarnating them with the actors—stage and TV factotums, comedians, friends—he had in his head as a reader, writer-director John Krasinski does much to foster the contract, between articulated speaker and active listener, so vital to Wallace, who showed much by exploring the processes and problems of telling.

Wallace implies a female interrogator; the better to entice moviegoers to lend their ears (and eyes), Krasinski imagines an audience surrogate and narrative entry-point: grad student Sara (Julianne Nicholson), on a personal and academic listening tour following her own relationship’s implosion. But rather than add new material, Krasinski reshuffles Wallace’s, filling the film’s world with his words-they come from the mouths of Sara’s subjects, but also from friends, students and faculty, and, chorus-like, from neighbors and bystanders. Aside from some interviews staged as standalones, Krasinski cuts associatively across a semester (his implied timeline never quite gels), so that his Brief Interviews is less adaptation than remix, self-contained loops of a preexistent source. Krasinski’s opening-out of the monologues makes them feel, actually, more hermetic-especially when callback edits bow-tie previous moments into a single point he doesn’t want you to miss. But it’s an honorable failing, being a shade too faithful to stories that implore us to pay closer attention to one another.

Opens September 25