News from the Locarno Festival

Somebody Up There Likes Me

Somebody Up There Likes Me



Rich with poker-faced cynicism, Bob Byington’s tragic-comedy hops and skips over 35 years in the life of Max Youngman, so appropriately named as after he opens a blue suitcase and is bathed in a Kiss Me Deadly-like light, he stops aging.

Max is visually stuck in his late twenties, while all his relationships and acquaintances grow up around him. Not invested enough in the disruptive events of his own life to be considered a postmodern Dorian Gray, Max, as played completely deadpan by Nick Poulson, shrugs off whatever roadblocks he places in his own life-path: failed marriages, dead-end jobs, constant rejection and betrayal, and abrupt deaths.

Five-year leaps in time are connected by memorable vignettes and a catchy score from Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio, and Byington’s script moves things along via a trenchant, dark and deeply personal sense of humor, with a parade of hilarious non sequiturs exchanged between Max, often, his best and only friend Sal (the great Nick Offerman, also one of the film’s producers) – the kind of pal who sleeps with your wife in your pool house.

“Father. Lover. Fighter. Entrepreneur” reads Max’s tombstone, and Byington’s fanciful film about a man watching his life fly by, with its two major locations being a steakhouse and a graveyard, approaches poignancy through defiantly off-kilter means. Features a guest appearance by Cineasti del presente jury member Alex Ross Perry as a man who wants to buy ice cream.

Mark Peranson

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