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“Person to Person” Movie Review by Daniel Barnes

Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson in Person to PersonPerson to Person (2017; Dustin Guy Defa)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Opens Friday, August 4, at the Landmark Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley.

A scruffy little charmer from festival darling Defa, in the form of a smart indie ensemble piece about – what else? – mixed-up New Yorkers stumbling towards some sort of personal connection.

Defa made his bones with short films, including a 2014 version of Person to Person that became his calling card.  Therefore, it’s probably no surprise that the separate stories drift together and apart rather than neatly interlace.  A shirt-obsessed record collector chases the punk who ripped him off; a tabloid reporter (Michael Cera) tries to impress a pretty news runner (Abbi Jacobson) on her first day; a hetero-curious teen connects with a cute boy; a watch repairman (Philip Baker Hall) tries not to get involved in his customers’ business; and a mopey revenge porn practitioner hides from his inevitable punishment.

The various story threads loosely circle around a mysterious death and a possible femme fatale.  However, Defa is clearly more interested in exploring the souls of his characters than in any ostentatious narrative contortions.  There are a handful of too-cute touches that occasionally make Person to Person feel more like an over-sized TV pilot, but the film has a huge heart and a sneaky sense of humor.  Meanwhile, the film’s propulsive musical energy reminds you of vintage Alan Rudolph or Paul Mazursky.

Read more of Daniel’s reviews at Dare Daniel and Rotten Tomatoes, and listen to Daniel on the Dare Daniel podcast.