Sometimes the most difficult reviews to write are of the movies you like the most. Consider that mere hours after I suffered through Movie 43, I could spit out a scathing takedown. But for every agonizing attempt at humor like Movie 43, there’s a true comedy like Supporting Characters — a sweet, down-to-earth, genuinely funny tale made even more entertaining for its relatability. But how do you praise a gem like this without repeating the accolades that others have already uttered?
Following in the footsteps of folks like Lena Dunham, Daniel Schechter and Tarik Lowe co-wrote this charming feature about two film editors — based on the twosome’s friendship, and played by Lowe and Girls‘ Alex Karpovsky — who work well in the cutting room but can’t relate to one another’s love lives. While Nick (Karpovsky) has fallen into a rut with his fiancée Amy (Sophia Takal), his co-collaborator Daryl (Lowe) is wrapped up in a volatile on-and-off relationship with Liana (Melonie Diaz).
However, it’s quickly made clear that the most solid relationship in this film is Nick and Daryl’s friendship, despite the professional and racial issues that often undercut their interactions. To call it a bromance almost cheapens it, because it’s nowhere near as calculated as other films and TV shows that bank on the same affectionate guy-on-guy dynamic. All you have to do is witness Schechter and Lowe (who recorded several tongue-in-cheek supplementary videos when the film first screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012) to see how much they cribbed from their own relationship. However, there are also purely fictional elements, like Nick growing closer to the film’s glamorous but troubled star, Jamie (Arielle Kebbel).
Supporting Characters is the ideal New York City Millennial film because it contrasts the glamorous lifestyle of working in the Big Apple with the same issues that plague twentysomethings’ relationships regardless of location. Everything about these characters’ motivations and mechanics is so assured that you never doubt the veracity of a film editor befriending a hot actress, or even the making of the film-within-a-film itself. The fact that Schechter and his crew shot this movie in New York City in just twelve days likely encourages the audience’s receptiveness.
Editing as Nick and Daryl’s professional and emotional bond makes for a realistic job, as opposed to other movies that treat their protagonists’ occupations as sitcom-y plot points or pure metaphor. OK, there’s a teeny bit of allegory in two behind-the-scenes guys who are nonetheless pivotal in the success of the final product.
But it works, because it gives us fantastic insight into the characters. Early in the movie, there’s a strangely hot back-and-forth where Nick goads Jamie into giving the perfect sultry, offended line reading; this tells us more about their burgeoning friendship than any montage could. Not to mention that a scene where Daryl has to dub over a random black extra provides one of the movie’s funniest lines.
The supporting cast clicks so well because many of them are friends of Schechter and Lowe. After years playing second-fiddle in lesser comedies, Kebbel is fantastic as a young star wrestling with her own insecurities beneath the veneer of a seemingly charmed life. As Nick’s fiancée, Takal provides an excellent foil to both Nick and Jamie: aimlessly drifting through her job, unsure of what she actually wants to do with her life, and wracked with anxiety over Nick’s fidelity. Lena Dunham basically embodies her ridiculously entitled Girls character Hannah Horvath in a funny, brief cameo.
Watching Supporting Characters is like crashing on your friend’s couch: You’re a comfortable visitor who fits into their lives for a short time. And even when you eventually part, you end on such an ambiguous note that you know you’ll run into them again. This film is a perfect snapshot of Millennials at those professional and personal crossroads. I can only hope we’ll get a chance to revisit these characters someday, when we’re all older, wiser, and closer to knowing what we want.
Photos courtesy of Tribeca Film