This is definitely not a film for everyone. I think that the average film viewer will find it boring. It's shot in 16mm B&W, the camera never really moving, giving it a somewhat cheap look. The actors are all unknown, they hem and haw through their performances. There's no real story here, no big plot, just a small glimpse at ordinary life. I could easily understand not liking this film, even though I fell in love with it, for all the above reasons.
This film felt like hanging out with old friends. These people reminded me of my art school days, staying up late, talking about nothing in particular, but having a great time. The actors performances, full of awkward pauses and "uhmms", give it an extremely natural feeling. In most films, the characters speak perfectly, knowing exactly where their going, but people don't speak like that in real life. So that drew me into this film immediately.
The film is mostly about Alan, an aspiring rock-star, moving to New York from Boston to follow his dreams. He hangs out with his good friends at their apartment. He visits a small radio station, where the DJ grows infatuated with him. He searches for a drummer. He plays a show. There's no character arc or anything that feels like a movie plot. Alan simply moves about his small life, enjoying the people around him, casually following where his life takes him. In the end there is no grand development. The film is simply a look into a few interesting weeks into Alan's life.
Writer/Director Andrew Bujalski is a new voice in cinema. I haven't seen his prior film Funny Ha Ha, but it's in the same style. While most independent comedies are trying to copy Wes Anderson, Bujalski has forged into new territory, where everything about the film feels as realistic as possible. He gets great performances out of non-professional actors. Alan is beautifully realized by real-life musician Justin Rice, who lends the songs from his band Bishop Allen to the soundtrack.
Mutual Appreciation was a wonderful discovery for me. I plan on seeing Funny Ha Ha very soon and can't wait to see where Bujalksi takes us next.