Spivak (dir. Anthony Abrams & Adam Larson Broder) is a charming, heart-warming film following Wally Spivak, a struggling writer, and how his life changes after meeting Jeanine and Chuck, an engaged couple who he forms a friendship with over the course of the film.
Spivak’s strengths lie in its characters and their on-screen relationships. Nearly all of the characters in the film are supportive of Wally and want him to succeed, even if that means pushing him out of his comfort zone. Both Wally’s slacker flatmates and his new friends Jeanine and Chuck display a positive relationship with Wally, demonstrating goodwill between social classes that is rare and refreshing. The relationship between classes, one of the underlying themes in Spivak, is handled excellently, with both parties looking to help the other where possible. The friendship that develops between Wally and Chuck and Jeanine is authentic and engaging, thus driving Wally’s personal growth.
The use of music in Spivak is also excellent, with both diegetic and non-diegetic music being employed to great effect. The nightclub scene at the start of the film stands out to me, with the intense juxtaposition providing both a comedic aspect and adding to the awkwardness and discomfort of the scene. Music was also used brilliantly to emphasise scene and location changes, with a sudden shift in the soundtrack providing more than just a geographical change for both the audience and characters.
Spivak is also a comedic film, with excellent humourous performances from Elden Henson and Mark Webber, as well as scintillating dialogue and well-constructed running jokes. It won’t have you rolling out of your seat with laughter, but it is a clever and witty film.
Overall, Spivak is an antidote to many tropes and portrayals that are common in modern romance films. Although it is not the most ground-breaking piece of cinema I’ve ever seen, it provided a fresh take on what I find to be a stale genre. The excellent performances cement the authentic relationships, resulting in a very gratifying film experience.
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