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By Stina Chyn | May 3, 2009

Jeannie (Tilly Hatcher), the main character in “Beeswax” (Andrew Bujalski) is learning the hard way that if it isn’t such a great idea for friends to go into business, then two people who aren’t even good friends should avoid contracts and partnerships whenever possible.

Recounting more of a “situation” than a “story,” “Beeswax,” included in the line-up of this year’s Atlanta Film Festival, pulls the viewer along for a week-in-the-life-of ride with Jeannie as she finds out that her business partner, Amanda (Ann Dodge), might threaten legal action due to differing opinions on how their vintage clothing store should be operated. The film’s 100 minutes of running time consist of Jeannie’s friends and family brainstorming ideas on how to help ameliorate this delicate matter.

Jeannie’s not-quite-boyfriend Merril (Alex Karpovsky), for instance, provides moral support, knowledge of contract law, and even arranges a meeting with a possible investor (someone to buy out Amanda’s half of the business). Jeannie’s twin sister Lauren (Maggie Hatcher) also lends a sympathetic ear. Although it sounds perfect for loud shouting matches, slaps, and antics, the plot comes off as somewhat uneventful. It took two viewings before I could comprehend and appreciate the laidback and quirky nature of the film.

Bujalski, who also wrote and edited “Beeswax,” bakes some Christopher Guest flavoring (minus the parody) into the film’s overall execution. The unobtrusive camera doesn’t assume any of the characters’ points-of-view; thus, the characters never look into the camera. As a result, one becomes all the more aware of how the actors deliver their lines and interact with each other. Five minutes into the film and I start to experience disorientation because I’m unable to tell if I’m watching scripted narrative fiction, unscripted narrative fiction, scripted non-fiction, or unscripted non-fiction. I soon feel as though I’ve intruded upon someone else’s life. The lint-on-the-lapel approach that “Beeswax” takes is oddly engaging and has me wishing I could spend a week observing Jeannie, Lauren, and Merrill…you know, without a camera as a mediator.

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