In Which There Is Enough Crazy Widow To Go Around

Hunter Captured By The Game

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Tumbledown
dir. Sean Mewshaw
105 minutes

Andrew McCabe (Jason Sudeikis) is the worst music writer in the world. But who cares, I mean he has the most perfect beard I have ever seen. Did Jason Sudeikis always look like this? I used to wonder why January Jones chose him to be the seventeenth person to enter her vagina and now I know: he has grown into the most gorgeous, stupid mimbo that has ever existed.

Hannah Miles (Rebecca Hall) is having sex with her clothes on when she finds out this professor of pop culture and music studies has journeyed to her Maine town. Hannah’s husband was a folk singer who died — she may have killed him, but it is never made clear. “He wrote one surprising album,” Sudeikis’ girlfriend Finley (Dianna Agron) explains, and Hannah suspects that Andrew McCabe may be using her to get on The View. For writing a biography of a folk singer who released one album. But who cares?

The music in Tumbledown is composed by Damien Jurado, a folk artist possessed of all the integrity the man he is ghostwriting for lacks. His soundtrack for Tumbledown is lush and gorgeous, if a bit muted for the character. Hannah finds that she cannot really make any headway on a biography of her husband, although it is somewhat unclear why anyone would be interested in this anyway. It’s not like Hunter Miles was John Lennon.

Hall was a gorgeous young actress who has failed to develop her talent any further now that she is in her thirties. Her Hannah is supposed to be a bit erratic and impulsive — Sudeikis calls her a crazy widow — and the amazing retinue of hats that she wears during Tumbledown accentuates her age. She has a part down the middle of her hair that reminds you of a fourth grader. Overly made-up and bright-eyed, she is almost nothing like the complicated woman she is portraying.

But who cares? “I love spunky!” yelps Sudekiis as he is invited back to Maine after Hannah runs him out of town on their first meeting. When she contacts him again he is disobeying Kanye’s wishes and teaching a college course about the Notorious B.I.G., which might be the dumbest, most racist thing I have ever witnessed. Such is the life of a professor of “pop culture and music studies,” which is more certain to land an individual in the pits of hell than damn near any other occupation.

Sudeikis explains to her that all magazines are trash (not sure what magazines he is referring to, since the only music magazine left is Rolling Stone and the moron there gave Tumbledown three stars). Professor Andrew McCabe wants to write a printed book — none of this ebook shit. If the book is available on Kindle, he’s going to delete it from the memory of the world. He has standards.

Sudeikis further explains that he has respect “fathoms deep” for Hannah’s dead husband. He proclaims that he has a book deal with Random House and she offers to pay him $50,000 to live in her guest house and co-write the biography, since a woman writing a book by herself is too wild an idea for motion pictures. “It’s too haaaaarrrrrrd!” she whines while having whiskey and intercourse with the local wildlife impresario Curtis (a ruined-looking Joe Manganiello).

Sudeikis seems to get along well with Hannah’s dogs, Ripken and Glover. Despite the fact that he is writing a book about her husband, Sudeikis has no idea how the man died and has to find out about it from Hannah. He apparently fell off a cliff in the middle of the night? She also reveals that her dead husband’s nickname for her was Buttercup, and Sudeikis finds a bullet in the guy’s guitar case. For some reason Hannah takes him to meet her parents.

His girlfriend Finley shows up unexpectedly when an unpublished song of Hunter Miles is discovered in the unlikeliest of places: his studio. To get Finley off his back Sudeikis gets her very drunk and puts her to bed — this way he can spend some more quality time with his brunette writing partner. I have to say I had no idea where this was going.

Sudeikis interprets the lyrics of this new song as expressing Hunter Miles’ desire for suicide. Rebecca Hall’s character is deeply offended by this insinuation. It is the suicide of his own father he is reading into the situation, she insists, because the lyrics of the newly discovered track are actually derived from a poem she wrote about winter, and do not concern death at all. He is ashamed and leaves Maine.

She feels bad about pushing him away, likely because she is unsure if the song can really be interpreted in just one way. “There is no absolute truth: rather truth is relative to the community in which we participate,” Richard Rorty tells us, but he is wrong about that. Tumbledown proves that this community absolutely sucks.

“I love living in place where you earn your seasons,” Hannah says at some point long after I had stopped caring about this movie. Sudeikis dumps his appealing girlfriend for Rebecca Hall and tells her that he wants to kiss her. It’s kind of gross when they do kiss, it reminded me of two steel wool sponges being scraped together over a toilet bowl.

The ensuing sex is very, very caring, although everyone is still mostly clothed. The next morning Sudeikis tells her that she smells like dirt and Hawaii and Hannah starts crying. Sudeikis then says that he “loves the shit” out of her. She’s had sex thousands of times since her husband died, but it never felt this intimate!

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

“Horizons” – Damien Jurado (mp3)

“Hands on the Table”  – Damien Jurado (mp3)

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