THE PUFFY CHAIR (Jay Duplass). 85 minutes. Opens Friday (December 8) at the Bloor. See Indie & Rep listings, page 101. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The Puffy Chair , like the equally low-budget traum-com (traumantic comedy) Mutual Appreciation, is one of those obscure indies that should become a hot DVD rental for those in its urban, 35-and-under target demographic.
The plot couldn't be simpler. New York music booker Josh ( Mark Duplass ) has bought the titular recliner on eBay for his dad's birthday. Along with his needy girlfriend Emily ( Kathryn Aselton ) and flaky brother Rhett ( Rhett Wilkins ), he goes to pick up the chair and surprise his dad in Atlanta.
Only problem is, the chair's in terrible shape and, like all messed-up things (Josh's uncertain relationship, for example), it needs some serious reupholstering.
For no apparent reason, Jay Duplass employs his digital video camera with the shakiness of a reality-TV director. But while there's not much visual inventiveness to the film, the script (by brother/actor Mark) is smart in the way it captures the anger and deception lurking beneath everyday transactions.
Josh's dealings with a motel owner or the seller of the chair, for instance, tell you as much about him as his romantic cooings to Emily.
Look for Wilkins to steal some scenes, especially with a mysterious woman he meets in a movie theatre. A low-key charmer.