Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home (15)

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Film-making brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, two key exponents of the low-budget mumblecore movement, err dangerously close to the mainstream with this quirky comedy of ill manners.

Like their previous work, Jeff, Who Lives At Home is distinguished by flowing, naturalistic dialogue and winning performances from an impressive ensemble cast.

Jason Segel and Ed Helms are extremely well matched as brothers from opposite ends of a shallow gene pool, whose humdrum lives are devoid of excitement and meaning.

Thirtysomething layabout Jeff (Segel) lives in the basement of his mother’s home, where he rhapsodises about the Mel Gibson sci-fi thriller Signs.

A wrong caller sparks Jeff’s febrile imagination and the waster becomes convinced that the enigmatic Kevin is going to play a pivotal role in his future. During a city-wide search for the elusive Kevin, Jeff helps his brother Pat (Helms) patch up his marriage to Linda (Judy Greer) with a spot of covert surveillance.

Framed by the tug of war between free will and destiny, Jeff, Who Lives At Home is an engaging portrait of lives in a rut that mines a rich vein of earthy humour.

Banter between Segel and Helms rings true and there is a lovely, touching moment when they pause to consider the answer to their father’s favourite riddle: “What is the greatest day in the history of the world?”

Humour and heartfelt emotion are happy bedfellows, especially when the characters speak from their aching hearts.