Characterized by naturalistic acting and dialogues that are sometimes improvised, mumblecore films began in 2002 with Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha. This independent film subgenre are usually produced from extremely low budgets and typically revolve around characters in their twenties and early thirties who are usually single and struggling with relatable issues through uncommon scenarios.
If you’re curious about the hype and wish to ease yourself into the genre, here are the most widely acclaimed mumblecore films ever.
7 Best Mumblecore Films for Indie Lovers
Frances Halladay, 27, who is originally from California, starts out in Brooklyn as an apprentice dancer in a small company where she’s aspiring to full membership. Instead, she gets dropped from its roster, and her life goes into a sudden downward spiral. The film is directed and written by Noah Baumbach. Greta Gerwig co-wrote the script and starred as Frances. She did not anticipate starring in the film as well, but Baumbach thought she suited the part. Unexpectedly, Frances Ha has been met with critical acclaim.
Although usually not included in lists of mumblecore films because of the budget, Before‘s director, Richard Linklater, is often attributed with making the most influential mumblecore films in the movement with his 1991 movie Slacker. The film explores how the world and relationships work through natural dialogue. Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as lovers Jesse and Céline, the trilogy focuses on the two characters at three different parts of their lives. Dealing with issues of that nature and just having two actors walk around could have been an unmitigated disaster. The risk paid off, however, and what we have is perhaps the most widely acclaimed trilogy of mumblecore films.
Drinking Buddies stars Olivia Wilde and a bearded Jake Johnson as co-workers at a local brewery who are absolutely perfect for each other, but they are both in relationships (with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick, respectively). The dialogue was improvised. Instead of a script, the actors received outlines that covered the major plot points and were told each day what had to happen in that day’s scenes.
Funny Ha Ha
Shot on 16 mm film and on a very low budget, Funny Ha Ha deals with the lives of people in their twenties as they try to come to terms with life after college and confront the responsibilities of adulthood, if only to put them off for as long as possible. The masterpiece is considered to be the first of all mumblecore films that fit the definition. The movie won the featured film award at the 2004 Black Point Film Festival.
The Puffy Chair
The plot is simply about a couple whose relationship falls apart while on a road trip to pick up a puffy chair purchased on eBay as a Father’s Day Gift. Produced on a $15,000 budget borrowed from the director’s parents, all of the film’s actors were paid $100 a day. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005 and went onto screen at South by Southwest in March 2005, winning the Audience Award. Shortly after, Netflix and Roadside Attractions acquired distribution rights to the film.
While his well-received 2013 comedy drama Drinking Buddies looked like a move towards the mainstream, this Joe Swanberg follow-up film was shot in the filmmaker’s own Chicago house, on an estimated budget of $70,000. The film revolves around an immature party girl (Anna Kendrick) who moves in with her brother’s family to get over a breakup and ends up throwing their lives out of whack. Magnolia Pictures and Paramount Pictures jointly acquired the international distribution rights prior to the film’s premiere screening.
Your Sister’s Sister
This film was shot over 12 days on a budget of $125,000. Directed by one of mumblecore films’ major figures, the film is about a woman who invites her male friend to stay at her family’s island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, the friend’s drunken encounter with the woman’s lesbian sister leads to interesting revelations and developments in all three of their lives. The film premiered on September 11, 2011, at the Toronto International Film Festival and received a certified fresh rating of 83% from Rotten Tomatoes.7 Top Flicks to Ease Yourself Into Mumblecore Films by Minette