Release date:August 7, 2009
(NY; LA release: Aug. 21)
Starring:Tilly Hatcher, Maggie Hatcher, Alex Karpovsky, Katy O'Connor, David Zellner, Kyle Henry, S.J. Anderson, Anne Dodge, Betty Blackwell, Bryan Poyser
"Beeswax" is a story about families, real and imagined, people taking care of each other when they want to, when they need to, when they ought to. It is also a film that perhaps moves the most famous member of the "Mumblecore" out of the group and into the next stage of his career. Like Bujalski's previous films, the cast of "Beeswax" is made up of non-professional (but carefully cast) actors and filmed with a light, fast-moving crew. The goal is to tell an intimate, peculiar story the likes of which one could not achieve via a more traditional, large-scale mode of production. The story revolves primarily around a pair of twin sisters--Jeannie, who has been in a wheelchair since her youth, and Lauren. Jeannie co-owns a vintage clothing store with her semi-estranged friend Amanda, while Lauren is between jobs and between boyfriends, considering going overseas to teach English. Tensions are mounting between Jeannie and Amanda, their management styles clashing and communication problems getting exacerbated. An e-mail from Amanda implying that their conflict will end in a lawsuit if necessary sends Jeannie into a mild panic--Amanda's lawyer father had written up all their agreements and Jeannie feels beleaguered and at a distinct disadvantage. She calls on an ex-boyfriend, Merrill, who has just graduated from law school and is studying for the bar, and after falling immediately into bed together, Merrill begins distracting himself from his own problems by trying to assist Jeannie. Various strategies for dealing with the Amanda crisis are discussed and pursued, though it remains infuriatingly unclear exactly how serious the crisis is--Amanda remains in the background and no one knows how idle her threat has been. When Lauren, at loose ends, gets roped into a familial obligation back home with her mother, her mother's partner, Sally, somewhat overreaching her step-motherly bounds, tries to involve herself in Jeannie's problems.