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Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

(No longer in theaters)
  • Rating: No Rating
  • Director: John Krasinski   Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Dominic Cooper, Timothy Hutton, Christopher Meloni
  • Running Time: 80 minutes
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Release Date

Sep 25, 2009

Release Notes


Official Website


John Krasinski’s adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s story cycle Brief Interviews With Hideous Men works only in spurts, but when it does, it’s enough to remind us how much deeper our dramatists could drill—and of the magnitude of Wallace’s loss. The movie is a series of interwoven male monologues (among the hideous men: Timothy Hutton, Michael Cerveris, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, and Krasinski himself), framed onscreen as subjects for a doctoral project by a female student, Sara (Julianne Nicholson), who sets out to research the impact of feminism on the male psyche. (She hatched it after getting dumped—no surprise there.) Krasinski participated in a staged reading of this material at Brown University, and the theater—which both heightens and distances—seems like a better place for it. Sara is a less-than-dynamic center; many of the men’s revelations don’t feel motivated; and with actors in close-up looking straight into the camera, you can’t get away from all the acting.

As the interviews pile up and you adjust to the artifice, though, Wallace’s genius glimmers. In this “postfeminist” age, self-deprecation and irony and self-proclaimed candor and even feminist sensitivity have become additional weapons in the war on women. Men have evolved: They congratulate themselves on their honesty as a means of deception. What makes them more fascinating than the male predators of Neil LaBute or David Mamet is that they’re barely conscious of the breadth of their lies. They’re lost in a solipsistic hall of mirrors, groping like blind men to account for their own impulses. Unfortunately, Krasinski’s camera gazes on all this impassively. It would take a very great film director to evoke Wallace’s brand of “impassivity,” fueled by a fierce desire to capture even the most infinitesimal twitches of the psyche.