I come into Must Come Down a huge fan of Ashly Burch. Her comedy videos (alongside brother Anthony) are hysterical. Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? has been featured on GTTV, so, if you’ve caught an episode of Geoff Keighley’s typically-great series on Spike, you may have seen an episode of Hey Ash without even knowing it. I’ll try to leave my painfully obvious crush on Ashly Burch at the door while reviewing Kenny Riches’ directorial debut.
The film centers around two twentysomethings (one in his late 20’s, the other in her early 20’s) both experiencing a quarter-life crisis. David Fetzer plays Ashley, a dude returning to his childhood home to monitor the comings and goings of the seemingly-happy family that lives there. A child of divorce, he spends his days at the bus stop across from the home until a chance meeting with Holly (Ashly Burch) leads to some adventure.
Ashley stands at something of a crossroads in his life, feeling that traveling will somehow aid him in discovering who he is and what he’s meant to be doing in the world. Though he freely admits that “soul-searching” is bullshit, he aims to break into his childhood home and explore its rooms one last time before continuing his journey of discovery. Holly, on the other hand, finds herself jobless after her boss (and former boyfriend), played by Colin Fugit (brother of Patrick, a producer on Must Come Down) fires her.
The flick is very funny and sweet, with Fetzer being the film’s not-so-secret weapon. I haven’t been fortunate enough to see much of the guy’s work before, but he’s definitely one I’ll be watching from now on. Not in a creepy way, mind you. More like how after I saw Scoot McNairy in Monsters, I started paying attention to his career more. Fetzer’s portrayal of Ashley is both touching and wildly funny, as he comes across as both incredibly weird yet endearing. I’d like to see Fetzer take on a supporting role in something like Girls on HBO or if the comic Irresistible is ever adapted for the big screen, he’d be perfect in the lead.
I don’t want to sing the praises of Ashly Burch too much, as I’ve already admitted to being a tad smitten. Regardless, while she’s not as batshit insane as she is in Hey Ash, she’s incredibly quirky and sweet here. Not to mention funny. Granted, the styles of comedy from her web series and Must Come Down are drastically different, with Hey Ash being a kinetic and frantic blast of absurdity catering to the Adult Swim crowd, Must Come Down is more a slow-burn, with a healthy dose of Wes Anderson-style gags thrown in for good measure. It’s nice to know Burch excels at material not created by her or her brother.
Holly’s reaction to her ex starting to date someone new is pretty funny. She sits, doe-eyed, and tears apart mementos from her short relationship. I think most of us can relate to that kind of frustration. When my engagement ended, I stared at the accumulated memories of my ex-fiance’, packed it all up angrily and stowed it away. Far back in my closet, in my parents’ crawl space, to the nether-realms of my external hard drive.
The dialogue and chemistry between Fetzer and Burch is natural. I always marvel at a film or TV show that generates incredible chemistry between its leads. It doesn’t happen often, so, the fact that it happens here is great. Ashley and Holly’s misadventures are fun to watch and their relationship feels very true, very natural. As the two get to know eachother, you can genuinely see why these two characters click, even on the base level of “your late 20’s are like your early 20’s.”
Kenny Riches writes and directs here. His camerawork is simple, but works perfectly for what the film requires. This isn’t Inception or anything so outrageous that it requires flashy camerawork. Beautifully composed shots enhance the narrative, with lingering imagery scattered across the film. It’s odd saying this, but in cinema, being a film-minded bunch, we’re always on the lookout for the next “voice of a generation” or whatever. Guys like Kevin Smith, Woody Allen, etc. While my money’s on Rick Alverson or Lena Dunham being the voice of my generation (sorta’), I feel like Kenny Riches could make a run at the title. It’s far too early to tell, of course, as Riches only has the one feature-length flick under his belt. It’s dangerous to throw that kind of high praise around, but I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone who nails the twentysomething voice so perfectly.
The one aspect of the film that might turn folks off is the perhaps the easiest “buzzword”-worthy way of describing the movie. A “hipster love story” (my skin just crawled while writing that) in a sense is what Must Come Down is, though really it’s more a letter from a generation of folks who just seem lost. I’m part of this generation, so the flick made sense to me. To define an entire generation as “hipster” might seem a bit unfair (either to my generation or to “hipsters,” I’m not entirely sure), but the film certainly expresses feelings of confusion and distance that I know friends of mine and others in my generation certainly feel. There’s a certain level of honesty on display in Must Come Down that connects.
The idea of these two somewhat-lost souls finding one-another is a beautiful sentiment. It’s something we see in every other movie, for sure, but there aren’t many that feel genuine. Must Come Down feels genuine in every way, not to mention sweet, which is part of what makes the film so charming.
The film is screening around the country now, so take a look here to see if you can catch it!
Out of a Possible 5 Stars