Entertainment online movie review - A modern Greek tragedy
The title, in all its sarcasm in regard to the film's actual content, is a complete contradiction of what we may derive from Rick Alverson's drama. Entertainment is a very peculiar piece of cinema, but one that wishes to pretend to be something it's not.
The nameless comedian (Gregg Turkington) travels around slums and dive bars in an American desert to put on a series of unedifying performances. As he dwells into the state of depression, he seeks refuge in calling his daughter and leaving her voice mails.
Actually, it is really hard to understand Alverson's drama ins and outs. It is soaked with George Orwell's dystopian perception of reality, dripping with grotesque, with Greek tragedy written all over it too. What's more, the scraps of comedian's performances that we watch, are truly pitiful and create a colorful canvas with his personal drama. It's tailored with malaise and heart-wrenching sadness. We are also given a lot of symbolism ? odd scenes (like the giving birth sequence) that even though sketch in the details of comedian's surroundings, reveal nothing important to the story itself. Yet, Alverson's point that he strives to make is just too obvious ? you can't entertain people, if you don't feel like doing so. Entertainment just falls into the pit of self-loving artistry, without understanding the importance of the dialogue with the audience.
Nevertheless, what needs to be stated is that the acting in Alverson's feature deserves appreciation. Turkington masterfully portrays a withdrawn, introvert and people-hating man, with details nurtured greatly, so that it makes his performance noticeable. The supporting cast do their part too ? Tye Sheridan is perfect as the comedian's co-worker and John C. Reilly singing is something one just need to love. Then again, quite the contrary could be said about the soundtrack. It varies from creating a joyful contrast to be exaggerating with drama, struggling to remain the background and eventually becoming distracting.
Entertainment was one of the indie productions that I truly awaited last year. Putting apart my love for peculiar filmmaking and the fact that Alverson's film reminds me of films like Lanthimos' Lobster, Coens' A serious man or Fargo ? this film fails to establish any truthful bond with the viewer. If you seek a story of a broken comedian, this year's TV series Baskets is a much better choice.