Sunday, January 15, 2017


The Commune is a comedy improv group that performs in a small theater in New York. With Jack (Keegan Michael-Key), one of the six friends on the group, being hired by a big time comedy TV show and their theater being sold away in a matter of four weeks, the Commune and all of its members start to realize that their lives might be changing in a way they don't like and can't control.

Portraying the comedy scene intimately and bringing to life a varied cast of quirky and beautiful characters, Don't Think Twice is a heartfelt, touching comedy that combines laughter with a deep insight into creativity. A small indie film made with real passion behind it and with some remarkable craft in writing and directing to support it.

Being a man of many talents definitely helped Mike Birbiglia in putting this film together and he shows it in many different ways. He just nails the feel of the group and its dynamics, he manages to really bring to life on screen 'The Commune' with all of its quirky individuals and the internal group relationships which make the film as funny and as interesting as it is.

Many times during the film he manages to hold on performances and little moments and the cast emerges with small touches that make a whole scene worth the watch. The way in which jealously and conflict or peace between characters is hinted at with body postures, timing in the blocking or the orchestration of eye movement is majestic. These are all small details that are the difference between good scenes and great scenes and this film has many great ones.

The improv performances are incredibly vital to the structure of the film and they are gold mines of visual storytelling. So much of how the characters move or what they do manages to build their arcs and complement the story, most amazing of all is that even with that they still manage to be funny performances that really sell the artistic medium being portrayed. So many times in movies there is an integral part of them that presents a world of craftsmanship and so many times that world is not given a dignified portrayal or at least one that presents the medium in a convincing and clear way to the audience.

Well, that's not the case here, you manage to really participate in the art the characters are involved in, everything about it is genuine and the world around is built beautifully. More than that you manage to directly see the impact of the art on these characters' lives and how it affects differently each one of them.

The discussion that this film opens on creativity and artistic fulfillment is really special, it isn't glamorous or sugar coated, it doesn't ask questions without giving answers and most of all it doesn't fall into clich├ęs. Everything it brings up about it is right, honest and moving. It is truthful to every individual presented in the film, all of them have the pay off they deserve and what ultimately this film says is that it does not matter how successful you are in something, what matters is your happiness in doing that.

The cast is magic. They succeed in bringing to life this group in a genuinely likable way, in which you fall in love with all of them and it takes not even ten minutes of the film for you to be able to distinguish them all in their look and their characteristics. That is something insanely rare to find in features and this one definitely excels in it. Kate Micucci was a stand out for me, her casting is perfectly on point, yet, even more than her, Gillian Jacobs gave a powerhouse of a performance. I think that not many people are yet familiar with her, but in a few years we'll be all talking about her talent. After Love and this she has put out in a single year two of my favorite performances of the year. She manages to live her character entirely on screen, and other than all of the comedic stuff that she pulls off, she also sells the dramatic side and brings to the screen probably the most interesting character.

The camera-work and the editing are both remarkable too. Firstly, the camera manages to capture some really intimate moments with incredible simplicity and effectiveness. It might be that the performers are so good on screen, but by keeping the camera movement simple and complementary to the story we manage to get moments of really big emotional scope. Then we have the editor putting this together so fluently, paced with relentless flow and with really smart choices on when to cut a scene or a montage.

Overall what this film partially lacks is a stronger dramatic heart. Whilst tonally it manages to be seamless thanks to really good plot development. It does not have a climactic turn of events that manages to make the viewer captivated by the turn out. It could be said that the film does not need that kind of structure, but I felt that it might have done with some more development in the dramatic side since the pay off on that note doesn't really hit you as hard as it could.

But that's enough meandering on flaws, "Don't Think Twice" is a glorious dramatic comedy with one of the best ensembles and combinations of characters to actors I have seen all year, a genuine and touching message for all artists and creatives out there. A really special gem of the indie world and a fantastic underground film on the New York comedy scene.

James' Score: 8/10

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