Out of the Sundance category NEXT, New Low is a pleasant introduction to “Mumblecore,” a genre that has invaded the festival circuit over the past few years. For the uninitiated, Mumblecore movies feature mostly young, untrained actors rattling off lines of realistic dialogue for 90 minutes or less. These films are produced on shoestring budgets and shot with low-end cameras and mostly natural lighting. Capturing real-life scenarios, human relationships, and natural conversations with handheld camerawork and an unobtrusive style, Mumblecore movies look like documentaries and much of their charm lies in this illusion of reality.
Darkly charismatic writer/director/star Adam Bowers is the film’s greatest asset and selling point. His hilarious trailer lured curious viewers into the premiere where the film delivered on all promises. It is a short, low-budget indie movie and makes no apologies. It is also very, very funny. Bowers’ dialogue, much of which was improvised, and his delivery style induce many of the laughs. It occasionally feels like Bowers is begging for laughs at inappropriate times, but this fault from a first-time writer, director, and actor can be excused. Several supporting characters add dimensions to the story and a good bit of comedy. Toby Turner is particularly well cast and funny as the best friend character.
Like most Mumblecore films, the story plays second fiddle to the dialogue. Bowers’ character is having a generic relationship crisis – which girl should he end up dating, the nice one or the fun one? This premise allows for much of the humorous dialogue and eventually comes to some sort of conclusion, but the film is primarily a slice of life: a partial conclusion comes to a petty problem with lots of unresolved loose ends. For this reason, New Low is a unique and worthwhile cinematic experience. It is a good example of a budding genre with little polish, but a lot of potential. New Low is perfect film festival material and for this reason may not appeal to a broad audience. However, for fans of Mumblecore or for other adventurous filmgoers, New Low is a nice change of pace.