Entertainment opens with its unnamed protagonist (Gregg Turkington) walking among the wreckage at an airplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert. From the inside of one of the empty vessels, The Comedian stares at the disquieting absence of any seating arrangement, a signifier of normalcy or comfort, which is deprived of both the character and his audience for the ensuing 102 minute ride.
An episodic, anti-road trip, Entertainment is highly cinematic rumination on the plunging depths of desperation in solitude, and the flailing attempt of purveying the titular concept amid so much sorrow. As Alverson toggles back and forth between The Comedian’s aimless off-stage wanderings and his abrasive comedy routines, his hollow shell unravels, and the armor of performance collapses into something all too real.
I spoke to Alverson at Sundance, where Entertainment premiered, about the dangers of palatable critiques, addressing white male culture, and his aversion to dialogue as a plot device. Entertainment makes its New York premiere as the Closing Night selection of New Directors/New Films, on Sunday.