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For a movie called “Art House” and stars like indie princess Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”) and Iggy Pop, this is a film with a rather mainstream outlook.
Sure, it has your requisite talkiness, the characters are an eclectic group of artists, and there’s a lot of sitting around moping about their inability to achieve greatness (and a lot of partying), but its downtrodden-group-of-outsiders-vs.-corporate-suits narrative evokes something along the lines of “Revenge of the Nerds,” only with less comedy.
Basically we have a group of struggling starving (read: unemployed) artists loving on a college campus in a house donated by a rich supporter of the arts. When their benefactor passes, so does the deed to the house, to her less-philanthropic descendants, who want to turn the house into a dorm for the school’s golf team.
Of course, our artists have gotten used to their digs, and don’t want to vacate, so they decide to…hold a party, er…art show, to save the house and show that they are real artists and not just slacker hangers-on who like not doing much of anything short of living rent-free.
The main problem with the film is that I really found myself sympathizing with the landlords. They want to do something constructive with the house, and no offense to artists, but they weren’t doing much of anything.
Sure, they party a lot and paint doodles on the walls, and since they do that they have fond memories of the house, giving it a vague mystique that they would be awfully sad to see go away, forget the fact that the house actually belongs to someone who wants to see it put to actual good use.
Now that I think about it “Art House” could very well be a parody of this brand of indie film, but we’re given no indication that the filmmakers were aiming for this, which doesn’t make it all that much of a parody if it isn’t obvious what the attitudes are.
Gerwig is the current reigning indie princess (taking over for Parker Posey, who abdicated her tiara her first day on the set of “Superman Returns”). She’s an attractive girl, but doesn’t give off that Hollywood starlet vibe, and has a gregarious, easygoing girl-next-door charm about her.
She proves worthy of carrying a film like this, though she doesn’t get much to do other than mope about yelling at her artist friends to actually make art. She gets a ho-hum romance arc that amounts to just about the sleepiest, most passive-aggressive love triangle I’ve seen in a movie, and things just kind of resolve themselves.
I wouldn’t say “Art House” is an unwatchable film. On the contrary it makes you feel relaxed and almost nostalgic for your college years when everything seemed to be fine and fun and exciting.
But it’s also a lot like actually time-travelling back and spending 3 or 4 days as yourself back then: not really as interesting or important as you seem to remember.