It’s nowhere near as outré as his delightfully bizarre Computer Chess, but writer-director Andrew Bujalski’s latest film is still bracingly off-kilter, a patchwork portrait of intriguingly messed-up people that morphs into a sort of anti rom-com even as it sends up a cultlike subculture while simultaneously embracing the full, curious humanity of those who live in it. Actually, then, Results isn’t so different from Computer Chess at all.
Trevor (Guy Pearce [Iron Man 3, Breathe In], using his own Australian accent, hooray!) runs an independent gym in Austin, Texas: “Power4Life” isn’t just the name of the establishment but an expression of Trevor’s philosophy on fitness; he will explain what that “mysterious” “4” means without you ever having to ask. Sensitive, touchy-feely Trevor is completely the opposite of his most difficult employee, the aggressive and spectacularly angry personal trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders: Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Lego Movie), and their relationship — which is both personal and professional — gets even more twisted up when a new client, Danny (Kevin Corrigan: Winter’s Tale, Life of Crime), takes interests (both personal and professional) in both of them. Danny’s own problems extend past a desire to get into shape, and revolve around a lifestyle conundrum that I cannot recall ever seeing depicted fictionally before. It’s a weirdly funny and yet also very sad situation.
This is not a movie that leads you by the hand, and even when it goes to familiar places, it does not take you there comfortably. Yet Results’ dry humor gets more amusing the harder it pokes at its characters’ vulnerabilities and raw emotional wounds, especially with Trevor and Kat, two people dedicated to helping others change their lives for the better who fail to recognize that their own lives aren’t working. So many films like this seem to fix even the stickiest of complicated and contradictory personal problems of their characters in pat ways. Here, the movie ends with much left unresolved, though with everyone perhaps on the right path… or maybe not.
This is a movie that could not be more grounded in the real world, and yet when Danny laments, “I don’t get reality anymore,” that sort of seems to encapsulate what Results has to say — if only obliquely — about not overthinking life too much and just going with it. For a story and characters that are fairly slight, I suspect I’m going to be pondering its reality for a while still.