SXSW FILM 2012
By Dave Campbell | April 20, 2012
Director: Rick Alverson
Writers: Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary
Starring: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy, Gregg Turkington, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexia Rasmussen, Jeff Jensen
The Comedy is the case study of Swanson (Tim Heidecker); a privileged thirty-something slacker hipster from the affluent Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. With his father withering away in hospice care, Swanson faces the inevitable inheritance of the family’s estate. Due to his complete lack of responsibilities as well as unlimited free time, Swanson has a desensitized perception of the world around him. He pushes social buttons and boundaries with the same abrasive curiosity of a child poking a dead animal with a stick, and plods through life with a drag on those around him.
Swanson and his group of friends are reminiscent of the house destroying, gang of teenagers (The Wormsley Common Gang) in Graham Greene’s short story The Destructors, but rather than physical destruction these aging upper crust hipsters leave a path of social maliciousness in their paths.
For those already familiar with Tim Heidecker for his comedy team Tim and Eric with costar Eric Wareheim, drama isn’t something you associate with the actor. However, his remarkable deadpan talents in comedy always led me to believe that his range went much further than comedy alone…and that was an accurate assumption. Heidecker effortlessly portrays the extremely complex character with staggering realism. His natural approach to the character of Swanson is amusing, socially tragic and emotionally compartmentalized with such a great presence that you’d swear at times you are watching a documentary.
To further complement the profound storytelling, the supporting cast was perfectly assembled and the cinematography is clean and organic. Director Rick Alverson exhibits a keen strategic ability to approach what is revealed and what is withheld from his audience, provoking lingering intellectual thought from the viewer. For me, The Comedy was the most emotionally dynamic film at SXSW 2012 due to Alverson’s astonishing job of allowing the natural wit of his comedic stars to thrive while keeping it within the bounds of the ironic title.