The Color Wheel
What makes characters unlikeable? When they say or do things that we we’d do ourselves, given the opportunity to do so without any social repercussions? And why are we impelled to demand watching characters that are “likeable” in the first place?
In his second feature, writer-director Alex Ross Perry picks up the baton of shame and self-loathing from the novels of Philip Roth, mixes it with the films of Vincent Gallo and Jerry Lewis, and drives it down the psychosexual American highway, reveling in awkwardness and embarrassment. JR (co-writer Carlen Altman), an aspiring weather girl whose celebrity crush is Moses (yes, from the Bible) and unaspiring writer Colin (director Perry, who could be voicing a Muppet), are a bickering brother and sister, travelling on the road to reclaim JR’s belongings from the apartment she shared with her professor-lover.
This is mainly a pretext to throw these warped siblings with raging ids together in motels, diners, bathrooms (many bathrooms) and public settings—including a party from hell—and observe their logorrheic-driven superiority to all that they encounter.
Shot on black-and-white 16mm to resemble Robert Frank’s The Americans and with rapid-fire Hawksian comedic dialogue, The Color Wheel is an adventurous film with that might work extra hard not to be loved, but succeeds as a unique construction in the current landscape of post-mumblecore American indies, a dark and twisted comedy that pushes the rules to their appalling limits.Mark Peranson