IFF Boston: Harmony and Me

23 April 2010, 5:11 pm

Fans of indie-rock act Bishop Allen, whose lead singer Justin Rice stars as Harmony*, or anyone who likes to watch off-the-cuff footage of songwriters working on material should run, not walk to any chance to catch Harmony and Me. I would have gone home happy if hearing Rice run through Jonathan Richman’s “Government Center” was the film’s highest point, and I don’t think it was. There are several scenes of Rice and other musicians working out parts and performing; they had a lovely, loose, candid quality to them. (Many of the other scenes had the sort of slightly stilted, self-consciously artificial delivery I associate most with early Hartley films.)

The rest of the world will probably find Harmony and Me a mixed bag. After being dumped by his girlfriend half a year ago, Harmony is wallowing in self pity, wearing it, rather literally, like a badge on his chest. The dialogue was frequently witty and/or trenchant, and the picture got a lot of laughs from me and the audience I saw it with. Still, I felt like the whole wasn’t quite equal to the sum of the parts. Writer/director Bob Byington seems to struggle with the narrative arc; the resolution was trying hard to avoid cliché, but it still felt a little glib and unsatisfying. The pacing has an odd, slightly disorienting rhythm, with characters and settings popping up unexplained, then returning after long stretches. (Maybe that was meant to mirror Harmony’s dazed and unfocused state.) Overall it gets a qualified thumbs up, and it leaves me curious to see what Byington does next.

If you see it, make sure to stay through the credits for more of Parks and Recreations‘ Nick Offerman’s bit part.

* a guy named Harmony? I struggled with that all the way through the film, which I thought was going to be about a guy dumped by a woman named Harmony. And it leaves me confused as to just who the “Me” in the title is supposed to be.

2 comments on “IFF Boston: Harmony and Me”

  1. 2fs

    Is the Elton John song “Harmony” featured in the film? That might be the title’s source…since that song’s chorus runs, “Harmony and me / were pretty good company…”

  2. villain

    oh, I think you nailed it, according to imdb:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196165/trivia
    thanks.

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