Andrew Bujalski

Andrew Bujalski talks about his fifth feature film, Results

Andrew Bujalski, Results, 2015, 35 mm, color, sound, 105 minutes. Danny (Kevin Corrigan) and Trevor (Guy Pearce).

Andrew Bujalski’s fifth feature film, Results (2015), is a romantic comedy about personal fitness that unfolds primarily in Austin. As in Bujalski’s previous works, such as Beeswax (2009) and Computer Chess (2013), humor arises from how the characters’ carefully made plans lead to unpredictable ends. Results opens in New York and Austin on May 29, 2015. Here, Bujalski discusses the ways in which the film is a continuation of his “kicking away [his] crutches.”

RESULTS is my version of romantic comedy, a genre that has fallen into ill repute. Romantic comedies are fun to write, but they also tend to be challenging on a technical level. They’re typically Rube Goldberg machines of unlikely causes and outsize effects—signals perpetually misinterpreted, situations exposing the heroes’ flaws, and neat illustrations of how yin and yang must complete each other.

When I started writing Results, I knew that I wanted to bring a looser, stranger form to the genre. The movie is essentially structured in thirds. The first part focuses on the relationship between the strong-willed personal fitness trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders) and the newly wealthy, divorced, and out-of-shape stoner Danny (Kevin Corrigan). The story then shifts gears to Danny’s unlikely friendship with the Australian fitness guru Trevor (Guy Pearce), and, finally, we wind up with amorous outcomes between Kat and Trevor. I felt at times like I was in Bergman’s Persona territory, with my male leads gradually morphing into each other. The overlap between them was much of this movie’s raison d’etre.

Every film that I’ve made has been an experiment in kicking away my crutches. Results is my most “mainstream” film and it had the biggest budget. I had to throw out most of what I thought I knew. The main shift was from working with nonprofessional actors to highly experienced veterans—the two groups communicate differently, both on-screen and off. As always, I aimed to build a story that would accommodate its performers’ talents. Something that Kevin and Guy have in common is that they’re both very inward, hard-to-read people, and so I put Cobie between them to create something like a constant human explosion; they’re all such strong and seasoned performers, but with three distinctive flavors.

Additionally, in the past I’d shot with throwback cameras—16 mm and Super 16 for the first three features, outmoded video for Computer Chess. Here we worked with up-to-date color digital equipment to make the film look and feel as contemporary as possible. I figured I’d try participating in the twenty-first century, rather than denying it (my natural inclination).

Trailer for Andrew Bujalski’s Results, 2015

I wondered if my voice could survive “going with the flow.” The reviews I’ve seen so far—both complimentary and unflattering—suggest that it has, which is nice for my ego, if a tad worrisome for my pocketbook. Working this way feels different to me, but then again, life feels different now. If you gave me the same materials with which I made my debut feature, Funny Ha Ha (2002), there is no way that the present-day me could come up with the movie that the twenty-four-year-old me did. This notion that every cell in the human body regenerates over the course of seven years has always resonated with me, so I figure I’m literally a different person at least twice over since then.

The processes of building your body and building a relationship have some things in common. In both cases you’re sold on this idea that if you go and work at something, and play through the pain, then there’ll be a reward awaiting you at the end. I think that this is, or at least can be, true. However, it’s also human nature to let yourself slip and conflate reaching a goal with solving all of your problems.

People get addicted when they latch on to that kind of metaphor. There are certain things at the core of you that no amount of external build-out can change. No matter how much you work on yourself, there’s always going to be a lot of you with which you’re simply stuck. You can—and should!—do your best possible work, but when unrealistic expectations creep in, as they usually do, we make ourselves miserable. That misery is a great vein for comedy to tap.