Passenger Side Matthew Bissonnette

Passenger Side Matthew Bissonnette
How to describe a movie that is almost entirely aesthetic, slow, meandering and yet somehow infinitely satisfying? It starts with a phone ringing unanswered, nothing in the shot for a long minute-and-a-half. Two brothers embark on what feels like a road movie but they never leave L.A. There is drug-related tension but nobody does any drugs. A transvestite masturbates unexpectedly in a car and the Montreal Canadiens' goaltending situation is discussed. The brothers meet a drunken neo-conservative slut and a rare Canadian-hating mechanic.

But this does little credit to the easy feel and naturalistic dialogue Matthew Bissonnette has become known for in previous films like Who Loves the Sun. This is a major step forward for the transplanted Canadian writer/director, principally on the strength of the performances by Matthew's brother Joel and Adam Scott.

Some of the dialogue borders on smarmy precociousness but laidback, naturalistic dialogue is bound to be subjective. One person's pure hipness is another's "trying too hard." Guess it depends how hip you are. I'm un-hip enough to be completely satisfied by the brothers' self-conscious banter. The chatter might seem inane at first but relevant details trickle into a shocker climax we don't realize is in the works until the final moment, elevating the early idle chat into something profound.

One of the major selling points is the top-notch soundtrack. Music supervisor Mac McCaughan of Superchunk has compiled a soundtrack from indie rock heaven. Leonard Cohen and Wilco standards fit perfectly alongside more esoteric offerings by Dinosaur Jr., Silver Jews and the Nils. Played on a fuzzy-sounding tape deck, they offer just the right feel for the freeways and dusty roads the brothers travel. (Kinosmith)