Review: About Alex
As it turns out, the titular Alex, a slightly shy, loving twenty-something who has just attempted to commit suicide, isn’t really who it’s all about. After unanswered calls and veiled cries for help, Alex has pondered the end, taking a seat in the bath tub of his reclusive cottage retreat. His collection of college friends come visit him upon his hospital release, and it’s turns out to be as much an address of their issues and insecurities as it is his.
Among these reunion attendees are a hipster nihilist Josh, a sharply-dressed lawyer Isaac and his young new girlfriend Kate, a longtime couple with careers moving in different directions, and Sarah, a girl who once dated the lawyer but may have feelings for the hipster.
But the hipster has feelings for Siri (Maggie Grace), who may need to relocate for her job while her partner Ben (Nate Parker) is struggling to follow up his successful first book. Alex (Jason Ritter) may also be pining for Siri, while Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) can’t help but judge and assess Kate (Jane Levy).
It’s a weekend of reflection, confrontation, and emotional, sexual release; darkly comic and blandly melodramatic. This septet of millennial ennui are bringing their baggage with them on a trip that is supposed to focus on Alex, who clearly had some issues that no one ever knew, or at least bothered to figure out.
They are all in part real people, not fully-fleshed out but neither thinly-drawn stereotypes. Josh has a bushy beard, wears flannels, damns impersonal technology, but even he has weaknesses. He might be insufferable, but it’s his comments that drive the film, which is basically one long chain event of disclosure and confession.
Ben and Siri are meant to be at the heart of the film, but while both actors give strong performances, their story is the most clichéd of them all: a couple nearing a crux and maybe ready to take the next step in their relationship, but both with secrets.
Writer and director Jesse Zwick does a fine job making each of these seven distinct and relatable, dividing them up throughout the weekend in interesting groups that foster some more compelling dialogue. The sentimental is perfectly balanced with the comedic, and while we have a predictably comforting bit of closure, the final day of the weekend is littered with absurd and exaggerative plot points.
What Alex and company in fact do is far less intriguing (and indeed believable) than what they say and ponder. Put these flawed, torn people in a room together, give them some drinks, and let them chat away – just make sure it’s not a bedroom.