People Places Things

People Places Things

Directed By James C. Strouse

Rating: 3/5

People Places Things follows Will Henry (Jemaine Clement), a Kiwi man who teaches at a local university in New York. He is also a graphic novelist and spends his evenings writing his own semi-autobiographical novel. During their five-year-old twins’ birthday party, Will walks in on his wife, Charlie (Stephanie Allynne), who has just slept with her new lover — a pudgy off-Broadway monologist.

The film jumps to Will, a year later, as a dishevelled and somewhat hapless father who just wants to spend his time having fun with his daughters. Eventually, Will gets dragged back into the dating game after his student, Kat (Jessica Williams), asks him over for dinner and reveals that she wants to set him up with her mum, Diane (Regina Hall), a literature professor from Columbia University.

Clement offers the audience a solid lead performance; the snapshots of his class provide humorous chapters, allowing Clement to shine as he sarcastically chides the less astute members of his class and occasionally allows his messy private life to spill into his professional sphere. His character’s relationship and scenes with his daughters seem genuine and anchor the film — Will’s love for the girls gives the audience a different perspective on the human messiness of the rest of the film.  

Will and Diane’s romance is enjoyable, but it’s a shame that this particular plotline feels somewhat underdone. Frustratingly, the director’s energy is focused on exploring Will’s relationship with Charlie, his annoying and self-absorbed ex. The audience can see how incompatible Will and Charlie are, but Strouse perseveres in the hope that the protagonist will finally process his feelings. Unfortunately, this personal development takes away from the development of other relationships within the film — the strong supporting cast is underused.

Despite some abandoned plotlines and unexplored character depth, People Places Things is an easy watch.

This article first appeared in Issue 25, 2015.
Posted 1:47pm Sunday 27th September 2015 by Nita Sullivan.