Locarno 2014 – Competition
Locarno 2014 – Winner – Grand Jury Prize
Anger rages in Philip (Jason Schwartzman) as he awaits the publication of his sure-to-succeed second novel. He feels pushed out of his adopted home city by the constant crowds and noise, a deteriorating relationship with his photographer girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss), and his own indifference to promoting the novel. When Philip’s idol Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) offers his isolated summer home as a refuge, he finally gets the peace and quiet to focus on his favorite subject—himself. Philip faces mistakes and miseries affecting those around him, including his girlfriend, her sister, his idol, his idol’s daughter, and all the ex-girlfriends and enemies that lie in wait on the open streets of New York.
A complex, intimate and highly idiosyncratic comedy filled with New Yorkers living their lives somewhere between individuality and isolation from the director of the critically acclaimed THE COLOR WHEEL.
So rueful and wise is writer-director Alex Ross Perry’s “Listen Up Philip” about artistic ambition, youthful arrogance and middle-aged regrets, it comes as a shock to discover that Perry himself is not yet even 30. That gives this remarkably achieved feature a precocity nearly equal to that of the prodigal fiction writer who rests at its center, honing his craft at the expense of any and all meaningful relationships in his life. It’s a familiar tale, but one told by Perry with immense filmmaking verve and novelistic flourish, and acted by an exceptional ensemble cast... By any measure, the pic formally announces Perry as one of the most promising young talents on the indie scene.
— Scott Foundas, VARIETY
The acerbically funny “Listen Up Philip” counts as a great leap forward for Alex Ross Perry after his generously received second feature, “The Color Wheel” ... The movie nimbly hopscotches from one character to another, including Philip’s increasingly alienated girlfriend, Ashley Kane (a strong Elisabeth Moss), and an older, reclusive writer, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce, delivering a master class in monstrous egomania), who with a bombardment of hilarious put-downs, becomes Philip’s mentor.
— Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Perry’s new film, in the guise of a riff on several themes by Philip Roth, is a riff on what it means for a filmmaker to read Philip Roth—to want to achieve something in movies akin to what Roth has accomplished in novels... In its peculiarly concrete variety of abstraction and multiple levels of narrative gamesmanship, “Listen Up Philip” disinvites the sort of discussion of character and motive that all too often takes the movie screen for a transparent view of real people. The actors’ nuanced specificity is broken up into moments and glances that seem as elusive as memories. I can’t think of a recent movie that stages with as much joy and wonder the sense of living a life that becomes, directly or obliquely, in action or in idea, the stuff of art. Not that “Listen Up Philip” is devoid of pain or bewilderment; rather, it’s devoid of guilt. That may be the Rothiest element of all.
— Richard Brody, THE NEW YORKER