I hate summer. It’s too hot, I’m too sweaty, and I never feel comfortable in my own skin. So I can’t decide if Person to Person, with its autumnal look and feel, is the perfect antidote for summer, or a mismatch for its season of release. The film takes place over the course of a single fall day in New York City, leaves crunching underfoot as each of its storylines unfold across the city. The film is a collection of shaggy dog stories, never amounting to anything profound, but not aiming to, either.
The “main” story involves a murder investigation, but instead of the police procedural point of view, we see it through the eyes of Claire (Abbi Jacobson). It is the first day in her new job as a news reporter, and Phil (Michael Cera) is showing her the ropes of talking to the cops and anyone else who might be involved in the case, including the deceased’s widow (Michaela Watkins). This leads them to a watch repair shop, run by Jimmy (Philip Baker Hall), who is repairing the victim’s watch and doesn’t want to be involved in the case at all.
Meanwhile, a record collector, Bene (Bene Coopersmith) chases down a rare Charlie Parker record. His friend Ray ( George Sample III) uses Bene’s apartment as a hideout, trying to escape the fact that he posted nude photos of his girlfriend on the internet. In another part of the city, Wendy (Tavi Gevinson) hangs out with her best friend Melanie (Olivia Luccardi). Wendy is the sort of high school girl that everyone assumes is a lesbian without any actual evidence other than her sense of style. Wendy struggles knowing that she and Melanie are drifting apart, but having Melanie hold on tighter to their friendship, which basically leads to Wendy having to sit around while Melanie and her boyfriend make out.
Wendy is the film’s most compelling character by far, especially once her “above it all” attitude is betrayed by her huge heart underneath. Each character in Person to Person is world-weary in their own way, from the lovelorn teenagers to the elder watch repairman, and if the film is about anything, it is about finding a space for yourself in this world. The film is peppered with comedic moments that add to its charms, like Phil trying to flirt with Leonard Cohen fan Claire by playing some of his thrash metal band’s music and a footchase in a record store resembling a series of mining tunnels. A pleasant enough diversion, and a reminder of how much happier I am when I can zip up my hoodie, sip a hot coffee, and marvel at the change in seasons.
Person to Person opens in Philly theaters today.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights
as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.