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Chasing the Puffy Chair

Posted at 2:37 AM on September 7, 2006 by Euan Kerr

The Duplass Brothers have created an oddly compelling movie in "The Puffy Chair" apparently by doing everything wrong.

Director Jay Duplass takes brother Mark's script about a roadtrip, apparently shoots it using a camera with a slow autofocus, and ends up with an endearing tale about the meaning of love and marriage.

The script is deceptively simple: Josh (Mark Duplass again) buys a recliner on eBay for his dad's birthday, and then decides to deliver it himself as part of the birthday surprise. While he originally intends to go on the two day drive by himself, he ends up inviting his girlfriend Emily (Kathryn Aselton) and his spacey brother Rhett (Rhett Wilkins.) Along the way it becomes clear Josh he's got all the answers even as Emily expresses her desire for something more from the relationship, and Rhett manages to put his own idiosyncratic new age spin on events. And it's clear they are all wrong in their beliefs.

The script poses way more questions than it answers (Josh used to be in a band, but isn't now, and while it's clear there's a story, Emily and Rhett never ask. And just how DOES Rhett make a living?) Yet that is part of the charm.

The plot takes some unexpected twists too, and we see behind the facades that each of the three characters have invented for themselves. This is a raw film which is alarmingly like real life. As such it is a hugely welcome relief. We saw family dysfunction in "Little Miss Sunshine," but this seems much closer to home.

"The Puffy Chair" won Jay Duplass the "Emerging Visions" award at South by Southwest in 2005. It's going to be good to see what the Duplass Brothers visions might be in the future.

September 2006
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