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Chuck and Buck

Miguel Arteta

Scripted by its co-star Michael White and directed by Miguel Arteta, Chuck and Buck was one of the most talked about films at this year’s Sundance festival. Its tale of two boyhood friends who meet up as adults is one that makes for an unsettling comedy – at times you don’t know whether to laugh or be appalled. In other words, it’s honest to life’s more complicated relationships and it’s not about to let the audience have an easy ride. In his late twenties, the eponymous Chuck (Chris Weitz) is an Adonis-like successful music producer with all the accessories that a fast L.A. life provides. In contrast, Buck (Michael White) is the weedy, stay-at-home boy who has never really grown up. When Buck’s mother dies, Chuck is invited to attend the funeral, precipitating an awkward reunion. For Buck, imagining that a childhood friendship can be forever, is prompted to follow his long-lost pal to L.A.

One could describe Chuck and Buck as a tale of obsessive love. Buck is still smitten, wanting to be like his friend and going to rather extreme lengths to prove it. This includes writing and putting on a show, ‘Hank and Frank’, a bizarre – but also hilarious – homage which the kindly theatre manageress with whom Buck strikes up a friendship, revealingly describes as ‘a homo-erotic misogynist love story.’ If potentially disturbing in its suggestion that Buck’s sexuality is infantalised, such a reading would deny Chuck and Buck’s manifold ambiguities. Fascinatingly funny, and ultimately quite touching.

U.S.A., 1999.
Colour.
Dolby stereo.
95 mins.

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