Writer/director Dustin Guy Defa explores everyone’s need for human connection in his drama, Person To Person. Defa’s large cast and multiple storylines succeed in watering down its few insightful moments about personal relationships.
The old adage of “Less is More” applies to Person To Person as it follows four main storylines along with two sub plots. Way too much story packed into 84 minutes starting with a veteran newspaper reporter, Phil (Michael Cera), intent on impressing a rookie reporter, Claire (Abbi Jacobson).
“Everyone has something profound to say about themselves and life.”
Bene (Bene Coopersmith), a record collector about to score big on a rare album when he is connected to a young man (Buddy Duress) selling his departed grandfather’s belongings.
Ray (George Sample III) is a man in hiding after posting nude photos of his ex-girlfriend on his website. Ray chooses to hide in his best friend, Bene’s apartment rather than being forced to confront his ex and her brother.
Finally, there are high school friends Wendy (Tavi Gevinson) and Melanie (Olivia Luccardi). Melanie is frustrated because she wants to spend more time with her boyfriend, but she is afraid that will create a rift with her best friend, Wendy, the third-wheel of this relationship. Melanie attempts to fix the situation by setting Wendy up with their friend.
There is way too much story going on in Person To Person. Each tale has a set-up, brief conflict, and resolution. There’s no time to care about any of the characters. Before you have a chance to build any kind of connection, the conflict is resolved.
“…would have been better off making four insightful shorts than smashing everything into a mediocre feature.”
Person To Person also relies heavily on dialogue. Everyone has something profound to say about themselves and life. The problem is everyone talks the same. It’s as if all of the dialogue was written by one person, which it was. Characters speak with the same cadence, complain in the same manner, and speak with the same level of sophistication. People are different and express thoughts and feelings in different ways and from different vantage points.
Person to Person has a good mix of up-and-coming and veteran actors, including Michael Cera, Philip Baker Hall and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. But when the dialogue feels redundant, so do all of the performances. There is nothing wrong with a movie where people talk but say something interesting and meaningful. Most of the talk comes off like it’s trying for the depth of Woody Allen.
Timing is the film’s undoing. Defa would have been better off making four insightful shorts than smashing everything into a mediocre feature.
Person To Person (2017) Written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa. Starring: Michael Cera, Abbi Jacobson, Michaela Watkins, and Bene Coopersmith.
2.5 out of 5