This is a newish indie comedy/drama about a conceited, narcissistic writer (Jason Schwartzman) in New York.
“Sounds like a Woody Allen film,” I hear you cry. There’s even a jazz soundtrack. Of course there is. But when Woody Allen repeatedly played self-obsessed Jewish writers in New York, who inexplicably attract disproportionately pretty women, he did so with charm and humour. Philip is simply horrible, all the way through, without charm or growth or anything remotely interesting. We’re repeatedly told that he’s a talented writer, but if he writes the way he talks, his novels must be completely intolerable. He’s slightly less pleasant than a flesh-eating virus. Actually, all the men in this film are worse company than a termite colony. There are currently mice scuttling around our flat with whom I’d rather spend time.
Schwartzman is consistently out-acted by Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce and a cat. Moss plays Philip’s girlfriend Ashley, who falls apart when he leaves her. But as audience members with hearts and brains instead of New York apartments and book deals, we don’t understand why she’s not overjoyed. It suggests that the movie doesn’t appreciate the extent of this man’s unpleasantness. It certainly thinks him interesting enough to put in a film. Which he isn’t. Writer/director Alex Ross Perry introduces and abandons characters right up until the end, and uses annoying handheld camerawork, which makes the film as stifling as it is smug.
Self-indulgent and rambling to the point of tedium, Listen Up Philip is an endurance test of a film. It’s insufferable indie drivel, as obnoxious and obtuse as its repellent protagonist. I wish he was real, so I could punch him in his stupid, bearded face.