Results is a romantic comedy of unorthodox proportions. It doesn’t feature a single “meet-cute,” the montages are more sarcastic than sincere, and though it ends with a dance party and everyone is happy, the film has already made a pretty good case for these people being better off apart than together. The film is also sporadically surreal, more concerned with its characters’ psychologies than their chemistry, and delightfully caustic, if such a thing is possible. Instead of being a movie where beautiful people fall in love, Results is a movie where people are more concerned than they ought to be with being beautiful and in love.
If you are familiar with writer/director Andrew Bujalski’s former work, none of this comes as a surprise. He’s a filmmaker who seems to enjoy odd people, conflicting psychologies, and letting the surreal break into the real world. His 2013 film Computer Chess is one of the strangest little films I’ve ever seen. Results is much more normal, but it’s certainly an outlier for its genre.
Its closest analog might be Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, though the tone of these two films are entirely different. However, both Results and Punch-Drunk Love are romantic comedies that follow their own rules into strange territories. They’re also the work of filmmakers with conviction. The audience might not be fully on board with the film, but there’s no doubt about the fun being had by the person behind the camera.
The “results” of the title refer to the big changes all the characters are trying to effect in their lives. None of them are happy, and they all hope One Big Thing is going to turn everything around. They’re all wrong, of course, and the film continually laughs at their naiveté. The Big Things that have happened to them have made them miserable, and their moments of contentment come when they make small steps continuously over time. The humor of the film is largely a commentary on their foolish aspirations and fated failures.
My favorite line in the film is an abrasive “Why waste time dreaming?” spat at a would-be life coach explaining that the core of his philosophy is a movement from dreaming to achieving. In other words, stop reaching for the goal and just take the nest step. Do the thing in front of you, and then do the next thing. That’s diligence, and it’s the only way to achieve anything of value.
That emphasis on diligence is also yet another way Results comments on romantic comedies and their common One Big Moment of happiness that’s supposed to fix everything. Results wants its characters to stop waiting for everything to work out, and get to work instead.
And on that note, I’ve got another Sundance screening to catch and then another review to write.