Andrew Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation is exclusively showing June 14 – July 13, 2019 on MUBI in the United States.
The acoustic guitar that appears in the closing scenes of the film is my own. It is still with me, currently by a window in my living room where it rests mostly ignored, excepting the rare occasion when I attempt to impress my kids by bluffing my way through some Beatles tune. I love plunking at it, but I know how boring it sounds. Indeed most acoustic guitar playing, even by far more competent players, sounds boring to me now—it’s a wonderful instrument, but after a century or two of dogged service to folk and popular music, what could be left in that thing that hasn’t already been thoroughly wrung out of it?
But then once in a while I’ll come across a recording of—or, if I’m really lucky, bear physical witness to—someone making that instrument come to life. And I’d swear I’d never heard it quite that way before. It might be mind-boggling virtuosity that does that trick, but more often it seems just a unique way of approaching it, or contextualizing it. Maybe a fresh idea. Maybe a naive idea, from someone who doesn’t know any better.
We shot Mutual Appreciation sixteen years ago as I write this. I was well aware that the world didn’t need another movie about middle class young adults fumbling their way to maturity. But we weren’t doing it to pay homage to all the decades of indie cinema that had preceded us, or to offer our own humble open-mic-night cover of that famous tune. We were trying to invent it.