Rate R, mainly for one really aggressive, non-naked sex scene. Like, it's uncomfortable, because it is intense. But there's language and drinking and all that stuff. But this movie could be easily edited to a PG-13 if it wanted to. But the movie doesn't want to be PG-13 and that's its prerogative. But at the end of the day, rated R.
DIRECTOR: Sean Mewshaw
I really wanted to watch Shoplifters this night. We watched Tumbledown. This shows that I'm flexible and have value as a person, beyond the needs of this blog. It also is a romantic comedy, so I have that openness as well. I feel like people think that I hate romantic comedies. I'm just very picky about romantic comedies. When we decided on Tumbledown, I thought it was going to be heavier on the comedy. Really, it's a dramedy. The drama plays way harder than the comedy in this movie, which is fine. I prefer that anyway. (Oh my gosh, I just defended how much I like romantic comedies and then said that I loved that this movie pulled the comedy out. I am a liar! Trust nothing I say!)
SPOILERS: This movie commits my least favorite crime in a romantic movie. I hate this so much and this movie does it. It didn't tank the movie for me like it normally does, but I am miffed. My least favorite thing about romance movies is when the protagonist has a significant other and they just get rid of this person. Now, in the grand scheme of things, there's a hierarchy of how bad this can get. This is all my own rules, but it should be taken as dogma. In some films, the significant other is a terrible person and we discover their evil through their interactions throughout the film. That is the least problematic narrative. It acts like a hurdle narratively. I'll let it slide. A bigger problem is when this character has an annoying trait, like sneezing too much. (Sleepless in Seattle, I judge you actively.) But the worst, which is part of Tumbledown, is that the significant other has NOTHING wrong with them. In fact, that person might be a good person. Tumbledown breaks up Jason Sudekis's relationship because she's actually a fairly committed significant other who supports her boyfriend. Yeah, that's it. The movie implies that she's controlling, but I didn't see anything wrong with her except that she was blonde and well-taken care of. That's really about it. It all kind of came down to the country girl versus the city girl. The movie doesn't even really address how that whole thing went down. Admittedly, the movie doesn't shy away from the fact that the only thing that broke up that relationship is that Andrew fell in love with Hannah. It almost leans hard into it. But that also makes Andrew kind of an adulterer. That's really weird. I hate that. While I overall liked the movie, there's a really weird message that the movie plays around. Andrew is a professor, giving him some degree of respectability. It makes him seem less creepy. But ultimately, Andrew inserts himself in Hannah's life because he is a fan of her husband. It puts Hannah on his radar and Hannah's initial reactions to him seem actually kind of valid. Sure, they are the Hollywood version of that feeling, where it is overblown to the point of being comical. But he is kind of an example of an obsessive fan. Of course he's going to fall in love with Hannah. He's devoted his life to Joe. He invades her space and her private moments. From the movie's perspective, he has an objective reason to be so snoopy. But it's not like Andrew has done this a billion times. He places Joe's music in a special part of his heart. It is his fandom and he attaches himself to it. It's very creepy the more you think about it. Yeah, Hannah makes the world seem attractive, but she does so almost by being a victim. He is in love not with Hannah, the woman. But Andrew seems to be in love with both Hannah the Injured Puppy and Hannah, the woman who lived this life. It's problematic.
But the movie does something that gets my gears spinning and I think I appreciate this a lot. The movie makes Andrew's perspective seem like it is canon. It's not. That's really interesting. Joe's death is a mystery throughout and we're placed in Andrew's shoes as he investigates this death. The movie telegraphs and indicates that Joe's death was a suicide. I love that it probably wasn't. It never gives us a straight answer on the subject. Instead, we learn something about Andrew the character through the things he sees. That's really fun. I like when characters become three dimensional, especially in romantic stories. This is a gross overgeneralization, but romantic stories tend to have very archetypal, trope-y characters. I always yearn for nuanced characters, but I rarely get that. So the story is about a romance that is budding between Andrew and Hannah. But somehow, the B-plot becomes as important as the A-plot. Yeah, it's the love story. You can watch this movie for the love story and that's absolutely fine. Sure, you have to accept my rules above and still manage to get by them to have the end work. But you can also watch this movie from a point of view of a survivor coming to terms with grief and acceptance. It gets a little preachy and a little heavy handed. However, it never really feels cheap. Instead, Tumbledown feels like a work of love. I mean, it's an independent film, I think. I don't know the situation of the screenwriter and director, but the throughline of suicide seems very personal. This is why I embrace Tumbledown despite the problematic elements of the film itself. Tumbledown wants to be more than just another romantic movie that's disposable. Unfortunately, I don't think that this movie will ever really break through as one of the greats. But it treats itself like one of the greats. It really crafts these moments of slow character development. When these two end up together at the end, despite the fact that they shouldn't, it seems believable. They are not completely fixed of their neuroses, but they are actively working towards self-help. Tumbledown seems like a tale of men fixing women. Hannah is broken. Andrew seems to have it together. But we discover that Andrew is just as broken as Hannah is, but he's unaware of that. I like that character development. They help each other grow and that's really fun from a viewing perspective.
What drew me to this movie was the cast. I don't know why Jason Sudekis works for me. I saw him in Colossal where he played the rare example of a romantic villain. But he works as an everyman character. Sure, he usually tends to be educated because he works so well with wit and comebacks. But he's a charming dude. I heard him on Harmontown a while back and he made an amazing guest. Rebecca Hall just works. I only really know her from Iron Man 3, I think. I would have to really explore her IMDB page to determine whether or not she was in something else that I like. But she plays Hannah marvelously. Hannah is a tragic character who refuses to be tragic. I know that she's kind of an archetype. But I also think that Hannah is an example of an archetype that's a tightrope walk. She has to be pitiable, but not too pitiable. We're not allowed to let her wallow. She still has to be compelling and interesting to us. She's still powering through to be driving the story. She almost has to drive the story. It's her decisions that keeps all the events happening. Andrew can easily be pushed away, so she has to be take charge. It seems like she's passive in this story, but she really isn't. All the choices are hers. She holds all the secrets. I tend to bond with the male characters of these stories, being a member of the patriarchy and all. But Hannah is far more crafty than other examples of her archetype tend to be. I like that. Joe Mangianello is great in everything. Yeah, I haven't seen the Magic Mike movies and I probably won't. But it's weird seeing him as kind of a bad guy again. Not since Flash Thompson...but I like him a lot. He's oddly funny as a jerk character. Yeah, his scenes are the most uncomfortable. But he plays that part well. I found myself smiling at some of the horrible things he says. I shouldn't have. But he's pretty great.
Tumbledown is a much better movie than the small release it got. There's a weird Catch-22 to the whole thing. If it didn't have this tiny release, we probably wouldn't have the tone that the movie actually has. But the limited release and the quiet debut it got probably also means that a lot of people won't see it. I know that we were exploring Amazon Prime and that's how we came across it. It's worth the watch. I don't know if it will ever change how you feel about romantic movies. It's deeply troubling in some ways, but I respect that the movie deeper than your average film.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.