"Stream My Reels" is a weekly column that will feature one recommended streaming title from many different sources (Netflix, OnDemand, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.).
No one makes films quite like the Duplass brothers (Mark and Jay) both in terms of budget and their mumblecore stylings. Shot through production for $15,000 and only making a box office total of roughly $200,000, it is safe to say that this week's film, The Puffy Chair, was not an enormous success. However, its cult following and screening at Sundance was enough to get the Duplass brothers three studio deals.
The film follows the story of Josh, played by Mark Duplass (The League, Safety Not Guarunteed), who has set out on a road-trip to deliver a present to his father for his birthday. This particular item is a giant pink puffy chair, reminiscent to the one they grew up around, and its delivery is fraught with complications. Along for the ride are Josh's high-maintenance girlfriend (Kathryn Aselton) and his lackadaisical brother (Rhett Wilkins), whose greatest accomplishment is filming a lizard outside of his apartment.
The story takes several interesting twists and turns along the way that test the characters' relationships with each other, particularly between Josh and Emily, his girlfriend. Now this might sound like the plot of any other generic coming-of-age road-trip film, and that assumption would be correct. However, it is the rawness of the indie filmmaking style and performances that make this film soar. This film is so incredibly pure and authentic that I would without hesitation place it as one of the best relationship dramas, despite just how narrow its scope is. Sometimes specificity can make something even more universal just through honesty.
Both brothers would go on to create the beloved Baghead, Cyrus, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. However, for my money their best film still remains their first. While it might not be something to look at, it was shot on a Panasonic AG-DVX100, this film proves that characters and performances always form the core of a good movie.
"The Puffy Chair" is now available for instant streaming on Netflix Watch Instant and Hulu+.