Lemon

Lemon

Director: Janicza Bravo
Running Time: 83 minutes


Janicza Bravo’s Lemon breathes new life into an ancient concept—a man who is dumb and also white.

Comedian Brett Gelman plays said man in what's easily his best role in a promising career of excellent side characters from Tim & Erik projects to Amazon’s Fleabag. In this movie (which he co-wrote with Bravo) he plays Isaac, a ridiculously pompous acting coach whose life falls apart. His girlfriend (Judy Greer, hilarious and cruel) leaves him after being together for ten years, and his own career as an actor trying to get modeling work isn’t panning out. Isaac finds some type of comfort when he starts a relationship with a woman named Cleo (Nia Long).

This is one of those rare comedies that directly engages said dumb white male's place in the world. It's a constant part of his interactions, whether it’s with a woman in his acting class that he constantly undermines (which makes for a hilarious running gag) or Cleo, who provides a type of culture shock with her family (it is worth noting that Gelman and Bravo are an interracial couple in real life, here making an exceptional comedy in part about an interracial couple).

Lemon doesn’t play any of its irreverent humor cheaply, incorporating it into very specific filmmaking choices (abrupt edits, extended sequences); nor does it become heavy-handed. Gelman's performance is sincere to the dark comedy of Isaac while playing the ultimate clown of privilege. The whole movie is an excellent balance of meaningful comedy and Lemon's natural, invigorating impulse to be so, so strange.

~~ Nick Allen, rogerebert.com