'The Color Wheel': Siblings drive movable feast of lacerating wit
A movie review of "The Color Wheel," an ambitious and audacious comedy of manners that captures the scathing, sarcastic voice of aimless 20-somethings in the form of bickering siblings (played by Carlen Altman and director Alex Ross Perry) on a road trip that crosses more than just geographical boundaries.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Color Wheel,' with Carlen Altman, Alex Ross Perry, Bob Byington. Directed by Perry, from a screenplay by Perry and Altman. 83 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains language, adult situations). Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.
"The Color Wheel" has been touted as one of those "voice of a generation" movies that speak to recent-vintage 20-somethings who feel adrift in a landscape of elusive opportunities, economic anxiety and lofty goals that rarely seem realistically attainable.
Some may recognize that voice from "Juno" and nearly every other awkward nerd comedy with Michael Cera in its cast. Others may hear that voice in TV's "The Big Bang Theory," or in that entertaining combination of heightened wit and withering sarcasm that reached its zenith in Aaron Sorkin's Oscar- winning script for "The Social Network."
Nobody emerges unscathed in "The Color Wheel," but most of its verbal abuse is launched between bickering siblings J.R. (co-writer Carlen Altman) and her younger brother Colin (director and co-writer Alex Ross Perry) during a road trip from Pennsylvania to Boston. An aspiring TV meteorologist who recently broke up with her broadcasting professor (Bob Byington), J.R. recruits Colin for the drive to Boston to retrieve the few belongings she left behind.
This sets the stage for a movable feast of lacerating wit combined with visual sophistication (the film was beautifully shot on grainy 16mm black-and-white film by Sean Price Williams) and some delicate directorial maneuvers by Perry, including the subtle suggestion that most of us harbor our own inner gargoyle.
Which is to say, people can be ugly to each other, stepping over social boundaries for good reasons and bad. On its way to smashing one of those boundaries, "The Color Wheel" partially recalls the scathing audacity of "The Graduate" some 45 years ago.
As collaborators and co-stars, Perry and Altman prove worthy of that comparison.