SXSW Review: Mr. Roosevelt
Mr. Roosevelt tells the story of a young woman trying to sort her life out. It's honest, funny, sad, real, and a very impressive directorial debut for SNL-alum Noel Wells who not only directed but also wrote and starred in the film.
Emily is struggling to jumpstart her comedy career in Los Angeles but when her ex-boyfriend Eric (played by Nick Thune) calls to tell her about a sudden death in the family. Emily finds herself having to put everything on hold and head back to Austin, Texas. To add another bump in her rocky situation, Emily is forced to stay with her ex and his new girlfriend Celeste (played by Britt Lower) in her old home and inevitably deal with the loose ends that she ran away from when she moved away. The film tells the story of good people who just sometimes don't always do the right thing, it shows that nobody is perfect, but hopefully when we realize our mistakes and accept certain facts, life will work itself out.
While this film is not autobiographical, Wells does say that the character of Emily is a composite of the darker aspects of herself and other people she knows. Emily is a flawed character but highly relatable and the audience does root for her along the way. She is funny, quirky, upbeat but still confused and heartbroken. In this era where millennials and just everyone in general are finding it harder to grow up, we see that Emily is just one of us. She's just trying to make in the world with the hopes of not losing herself. In Austin, she reconnects with Jen (played by Daniella Pineda) – an old acquaintance from school who, after tossing a few cups of water in Emily's face, helps her learn to loosen up and stop taking life too seriously.
The dynamic between the women in the cast is something to talk about. The performances by Britt Lower and Noel Wells are definitely something to talk about. Lower plays Celeste, the new girlfriend, is a complex character. She is very smart but seemingly almost robotic and too perfect at first, but we learn that is just how she deals with stressful issues, she – like all the women in the film – has layers, and is just trying to make everyone happy. Thune plays Eric, the ex boyfriend who is extremely patient and yet still almost as broken as Emily as he deals with unresolved issues of her leaving him and moving to Los Angeles. Well's Emily shines as she shows her weird quirks like dancing on a creeky wooden floor to having a near breakdown at a brunch when she realizes she still has feelings for Eric who, as we know, has forced himself to moved on.
In the end, we've all been an Emily, an Eric, a Celeste, or all three. We've dealt with these situations and finding it difficult to get everything right and moving on and that what this film shows.It encompasses what it is like to deal with endings – whether it is saying goodbye to someone or something who has passed away to moving on and dealing with the ending of relationship you were still hung up on. Mr. Roosevelt doesn't hide the fact that life is hard no matter who or what kind of person you are, endings can hurt and will hurt, but if you keep pushing and accept the fact you have to move on, you're going to be okay.