Best of Mumblecore: Frances Ha, Tiny Furniture, Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas

Mumblecore is a fitting genre for our voyeuristic age where we spend hours perusing the social media profiles of friends and strangers.

Indeed you will only enjoy these films if you are the sort of human who enjoys observing other humans. Mumblecore is often about “nothing”. Though it is not totally devoid of narrative or structure, the characters and plot are often situated in mundane settings with ordinary people and improvised dialogue.

There is a certainly an art to it, however.  It is minimalism in cinematic form. A good mumblecore film engages its audience with simple and subtle insights into quotidian life and its tragi-comedy (it is usually steeped in sharp humour).

frances ha netflix

Happy Christmas (2014) Director: Joe Swanberg

Director: Joe Swanberg

Country: United States

Duration: 82 minutes

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey

4/5 

 

Director Joe Swanberg is a mumblecore veteran who has produced a number of notable contributions to the genre. His films are usually witty and warm, and Happy Christmas is no exception. It follows a young Chicago family whose stable routine is disrupted when the father’s wayward sister comes to stay for the Christmas holidays.

Drinking Buddies (2013) Director: Joe Swanberg

Director: Joe Swanberg

Country: United States

Duration: 90 minutes

Starring: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson

3/5 

A second offering from Swanberg, Drinking Buddies centres around two close friends who work together at a Chicago brewery. Though they are both in relationships, they struggle with romantic feelings for one another.

Frances Ha (2012) Director: Noah Baumbach

Director: Noah Baumbach

Country: United States

Duration: 86 minutes

Starring: Greta Gerwig

4/5 

This is a more mainstream mumblecore effort from well-known director Noah Baumbach about a 27 year-old woman in the throes of a quarter-life crisis, as she struggles with an itinerant, impecunious existence in New York.

Tiny Furniture (2010) Director: Lena Dunham

Director: Lena Dunham

Country: United States

Duration: 98 minutes

Starring: Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons

3/5 

Also set in New York, Tiny Furniture also explores the existential angst of a newly graduated film student who lacks any sort of meaningful direction in her life much to the frustration of her highly motivated family.

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