Perhaps more than any other movie I’ve seen this year, Resolution will be the hardest to explain or describe. It’s not necessarily for fear of spoilers, because even if I wrote out the entire plot in detail it would probably 1) reduce the movie to some kind of gibberish and 2) not actually ruin anything because the joy of Resolution is all in the experience of watching it.
It’s not a horror movie and it’s not a comedy, although it’s consistently hilarious. It’s not a drama or a dramedy, a found footage flick or even a pseudo-documentary, despite possessing elements of all those genres. On paper it must sound like a mess, but the shifts between genres overlap slightly and are so convincingly executed, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. Resolution is truly a genre-bending movie.
Early on, it visually and tonally comes across a bit like Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg, particularly the composition and editing in the scene where Michael is driving towards his last ditch attempt to save his best friend Chris from a tenacious meth addiction (though is there any other kind really?). Yet these characters, although flawed, are far more likeable and the plot goes much further than it does in that film.
Although the chemistry between Michael (Peter Cillela) and Chris’s (Vinny Curran) characters might feel like high-functioning improv, it’s all scripted, and beautifully so, by co-director Justin Benson. The dialogue is as authentic, natural, and utterly engaging as anything you’re likely to see this year or any other year, for that matter. As Michael and Chris, these two fairly unknown actors prove their immense talents.
Aaron Moorhead co-directed Resolution with Justin Benson as well as serving as director of photography. He uses a lot of naturally lit, handheld, shaky cam, and point of view shots, all of which instantly transport you into the world of the movie. It’s not a fantasy world, though; it’s incredibly mundane. Or so you think.
The first thing you’ll notice about Resolution is that it’s outrageously, hilariously funny. There’s no slapstick or pop culture references or sarcastic, dry wit, though. It’s more like watching two of the most genuinely funny people you know have a conversation. When Resolution hits its dramatic high (or low, depending on your interpretation) points, it socks you in the gut, but doesn’t try for cheap poignancy, either.
Weird stuff happens throughout, and on this front, the less said the better, except that the subtle visual effects and sound design are superb in creating an underlying tension (as well as the more overt kind when needed). It’s not so weird that you’re freaked out, but more like mystified. Then, when Resolution comes to what seems to be a stopping point, it goes even deeper.
This progression, instead of being jarring or awkward, is thoroughly riveting and completely credible. Because we’re so invested in the normality of these characters—despite their less-than-normal circumstances—and because Moorhead and Benson have laid the foundation for this shift so well, we are totally right there with Michael and Chris.
Resolution is a terrifically original and fantastic movie. It is not what you might expect, but so much more than what you might think. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, as well as Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran, deserve to have massively successful careers. We deserve to see a lot more of their work in the future.