Brad’s Status

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*1/2 (out of five)

The Dendy Cinema in Newtown, Sydney is a fine venue, serving mostly arthouse fare to one of the most diverse, progressive and colourful neighbourhoods in Australia. Given the artistic flair of the neighbourhood, and its proximity to universities, there are patrons for the cinema at all times, even morning sessions during the week. So there were enough members of the public around me yesterday, that I didn’t actually stand up and scream at Brad, Ben Stiller’s character in Mike White’s Brad’s Status, “Get over yourself, you self-absorbed wanker,” much as I desperately wanted to, many, many times throughout this turgid film.

A few weeks ago, Ingrid Goes West showed us how Instagram could seriously impair the emotional life of a young woman. We could sympathise. But here, the victim of social media’s depressive effects is a forty-seven year old man, who can’t get over being jealous of his college friends. It’s pathetic, juvenile behaviour, which is not played for laughs – this is a serious drama, or at least aspires to be – and with which we are meant to empathise, enforced – horrendously – by almost constant voice-over, which implies, perhaps, a non-existent source novel. A terrible one.

White wrote the recent, similarly annoying Beatriz at Dinner, which at least had some directorial flair from Miguel Arteta, but he directs his own material here, doubling down on its self-importance. He wrote School of Rock in 2003, but since then his work has seemed evermore like therapy. He can get the hell off my couch.

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