The subtlety of “Beeswax”
Uneven in pacing (slow) and plot development (cryptic), Andrew Bujalski’s third feature film “Beeswax” overcomes some of these problems thanks to the great performances from the non-professional actors and his continued ability to capture awkward, fly-on-the-wall moments amongst the well-educated twenty and thirtysomething set.
Some of these awkward moments are better than others. When Jeannie (played by Tilly Hatcher) asks Merrill (played by Alex Karpovsky), her would-be-lawyer ex-boyfriend for legal advice since her business partner might be suing her, the audience can identify with the awkwardness of the situation. Meanwhile, watching Jeannie making out with Merrill is cringe-worthy inducing.
A much bigger issue is Bujalski’s decision to leave significant plot lines unexplained. For example, he fails to provide any backstory as to why Jeannie’s business partner wants to sue her. Therefore, it’s hard to root for / invest in Jeannie. And making Jeannie wheelchair-bound doesn’t make her any more sympathetic.
We never learn why Jeannie is paraplegic (from birth vs. accident). Nor is there an explanation as to why Lauren, Jeannie’s sister (played by real-life twin Maggie Hatcher) breaks up with her boyfriend. As frustrating as this might be, “Beeswax” feels more authentic than any film coming out of the studio system these days.