Let me tell you about a great new film – ‘Listen Up Philip’

I really loved the newly released film Listen Up Philip, so I wrote about it! Have a read and go and see the film, its out in cinemas now. Even the art work for the film is super cool!


Film poster for ‘Listen Up Philip’. Image from https://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/


US indie flick Listen Up Philip from director Alex Ross Perry engrosses us in the world of New York based writer Philip Lewis Friedmann, who as he finds success with his latest book, experiences overwhelming disinclination in regards to pretty much everything, resulting in a tragicomic viewing experience full of laugh out loud witticism and a sense of sadness.

Jason Schwartzmann visibly delights himself and therefore the audience in playing Philip, perfectly. Watching him, you want to punch Philip in the face, he is obnoxious in every way – not even trying in the relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men) and doing anything he can to make things difficult for colleagues at his literary agency to work with him.

Philip becomes frustrated with the New York City environment and decides for the sake of his art and sanity it seems, to go upstate and spend time with his idol, the older, novelist Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce). The film then follows the verging on bromance literary scene style misadventures of the two characters, then shifting to Ashley back in the apartment previously shared with Philip in NYC. There are certainly moments of homage to Woody Allen with a bit of Noah Baumbach thrown in and of course some Wes Anderson inspired stuff, familiar to Schwartzmann as one of the director’s frequent collaborators.

Exasperating relationships feature throughout – Ike cannot get along with his daughter Melanie (Krysten Ritter) and when taking on a cushy academic job that Ike lands him, Philip eventually is unable to keep a relationship going with associate scholar Yvette (Joséphine De La Baume). In their behaviour, Ike and Philip are as bad as and deserve each other. Ike is a preview to Philip’s possible future and the troubles of these males, serve to only highlight the success of rising star Ashley in her career and comparatively flourishing personal life away from Philip.

Stylistic elements keep this feature fresh. Particularly enjoyable is the radio style voiceover narration throughout the film that allows the audience to concentrate on Schwartzmann’s portrayal of Philip that is both magnetising and maddening. Moss’s performance is exceptional, her face giving us an intelligent reading of human emotion, especially during relationship break up, when it’s all convincingly raw. Frequent use of close up camerawork also contributes to the sensation of characters feeling trapped. The set of book covers mocked up especially for the film used when the credits roll, with their retro look give more than a nod to American Jewish writer Philip Roth whose influence is felt through many parts of the film.

What makes Listen Up Philip memorable and such a delight to watch, are certainly the terrific performances and the characters themselves. Philip is so unpleasant but in such an amusing way. Like a Larry David, he does what he likes without concern for others and we revel in it …. Listen up, Philip does not and that makes everything more of a struggle for him and absolutely entertaining for us.