Movie Review: ‘Lemon’

Review by Preston Barta at SXSW

This indie oddball assembled one of the most impressive casts of any film at the festival. As we’ve mention in past reviews, this could be a tell-tale sign the film isn’t going to be a memorable one. Either there are too many characters to keep up with and the viewer’s head spins, or there are simply just too many cameos that distract from the story.

Lemon, directed by first-time feature filmmaker Janicza Bravo, is combination of the two. It includes the talents of Brett Gelman (also co-writer), Judy Greer, Michael Cera, Nia Long, Gillian Jacobs, Rhea Perlman, Fred Melamed, Shiri Appleby, Martin Starr and many, many more. Many seem to be there for a filmmaker’s favor, or just for the chance to kick-it with people who’ve displayed greater strengths in performance art elsewhere. It’s hard to believe all these people know what the hell they were signing up for.

The story – or whatever it is – is a loose narrative about a man (Gelman) whose life begins to deteriorate when his blind wife of 10 years (Greer) is fed up with their sad relationship. The man, Isaac, teaches acting classes, has a man crush on his top student (Cera), and constantly likes to prove his worth to people but only comes off as a pretentious douchebag.

While there are plenty of films out there that center on unlikable characters, it’s difficult to stay in for a movie that doesn’t seem too keen on making any progress along the way. Issac’s actions just get worse and worse as the movie goes on — spray painting the words “white n*gger” on Cera’s character’s vehicle, discussing “vagina nubs” with a friend whom Issac has to bird-sit for, or an over-the-line sequence where Issac drops his phone into a toilet filled with his own colon blow. If you’re lunch is slowly reaching the top of your throat by merely reading this, try watching it.

So if Lemon pops up on your On-Demand queue down the line, I’d strongly consider saving 90 minutes of your life for something else.

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