Cinema is an expensive art. Cinema costs time, energy, and, most notably, money. This is even truer for the independent filmmaker, who lacks studio backing and must search outside the system for contributions. Most of the time, that money is needed to create. Sometimes it is needed simply to live.
This is what likely forms the background of writer/director Andrew Bujalski’s latest effort, Results. The story is not about filmmakers but working professionals: a gym owner, Trevor (Guy Pearce), his top trainer, Kat (Cobie Smulders), and her wealthy client, Danny (Kevin Corrigan). Danny has recently inherited millions of dollars—enough that money is no longer an object—but isn’t sure what to do with it. Getting in shape seems like a good idea, or as he tells Trevor, he wants to be able to take a punch without throwing up.
Trevor finds Danny’s request suspect (but if the check clears…) and plans to send one of his male trainers to Danny’s home for private lessons. Kat gets wind of the scenario and weasels her way into the position, only to find that Danny is sincere in his pursuits, despite being incredibly lazy and seemingly without motive.
Danny likes Kat and is more or less using his money so that she hangs around. Yet, it is more than that. Danny wants to do something with his money and his life. Kat also wants to do something; she just hasn’t found that one thing she is good at. Trevor knows what he wants to do: He wants to build a giant gym that helps people improve mind, body, and soul. He just lacks the funding and the know-how to bring it to fruition. Obviously, if all three of them combine forces, their problems will be resolved. But two things lie in their way: ego and sex.
Danny likes Kat. Kat likes Trevor. Trevor likes Kat but likes Danny’s money and is wary of how a relationship with Kat might affect his other relationships. Danny, oddly, wants Trevor and Kat together because, why not? This is the stuff of good, classic drama, and in the hands of Bujalski, it all comes off brilliantly.
In the early 21st century, Andrew Bujalski helped usher in mumblecore, a micro-budget approach to filmmaking that place emphasis on improv, sparse sets, and non-professionals in real situations. Often narcissistic, sometimes to a fault, mumblecore depicts a margin of cinema commonly overlooked and glossed over. These characters are allowed to meander and stray, sometimes not even finding (or even being aware of) a destination. When Bujalski started in 2002, he was 24, and the wandering fit like a glove. Now he is 37, and his objectives seem to be a little more streamlined.
Hence, the money aspect at the heart of Results. For those who don’t have it, few things are as mysterious and frustrating as money. Especially the existence of those who have it yet refuse to share it. Or when they do, they do so incorrectly. When Kat inquires about Danny’s spending habits, she also wonders about the spending habits of her other clients. Danny sums it up nicely for her, “They waste money because they have it. That’s why I waste it.”
Danny’s wealth has brought and bought him nothing. He’s divorced, living in a rented mansion with expensive booze and very little furniture. He has no friends and the ones he has, he has because he has money. It’s only when he applies his funds toward something of value—Trevor’s business provides value for Trevor, only Results 2 will determine if the business holds any real-world value—will Danny achieve what he has been looking for. Only when Trevor has the funds will his dreams become a reality. Only when Kat is managing Trevor’s gym will she know what she has been working toward. All three are seeking results, and if Bujalski wanted to, he could simply come out from behind the camera and suggest that they make a movie. It seems to be working for him.
Written & Directed by: Andrew Bujalski
Produced by: Paul Bernon, Houston King, Sam Slater
Starring: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker
Magnolia Pictures, Rated R, Running time 105 minutes, Opens June 12, 2015.