A nicely told coming of age story about a guy slightly too old to be coming of age. Bruce!!! is engaging, charming and funny enough in all the right places.
It has been said (usually by aging white dudes) that many Millennials are in a state of arrested development. A sort of extended adolescence that brings with it an implied immaturity that lasts well into adulthood. It makes sense then that we would see depictions of this on screen. Bruce!!!, the new indie from writer, director, producer, and star Eden Marryshow (Last Night, Welcome Home, Jessica Jones) is an example of this.
Bruce is a slacker in his early 30’s. He lives with his childhood best friend and makes his living from walking dogs and sponging off his family and friends. When his roommate announces that his girlfriend is pregnant and he is moving out Bruce is forced to find a new person to rent the vacant room to. Predictably, Bruce behaves badly and finds himself having to come to terms with the life he leads and take responsibility for it.
I must confess that I am usually wary of low budget films that rely so heavily on one artistic voice. It can often be the case that without a range of opinions involved in the creative process there is no-one to tell the filmmaker when an idea is over or under done, and this is especially a problem in comedy where jokes are so hard to translate from the page to the screen. Thankfully, Bruce!!! seems to have avoided many of the pitfalls with this and delivers a well-told story with a lightness of touch.
The success of a film like this can hinge on the central character; can you spend 110 minutes in their company despite their many character flaws without losing patience with them? It is a fine line to walk but Bruce is, for the most part, a lovable a*****e. Marryshow’s performance gives us enough to see that he is irresponsible and a drain on those around him, but he is also charming and likable enough that you can see why they have tolerated him for so long. He may be a waster, but he is at least fun enough to be around. When he has the inevitable third act epiphany and resolves to change his ways it feels earned and you find yourself rooting for him.
The rest of the cast do well, albeit with quite two-dimensional roles, and there is a nice chemistry between the actors. You get the impression that there was a nice atmosphere on set and everyone had fun making this.
There are sections where it drags a bit and perhaps the film would have benefited from trimming the run time by a few minutes; there is one sequence involving a visit to a dominatrix that was a bit tonally out of place from the rest of the film, adding little to the narrative and which I could have done without.
A few minor gripes aside, Bruce!!! Is an engaging watch with a lovable a*****e at the center. Marryshow’s performance stands out and there are a few nice directorial flourishes along the way.