Overview: Two twenty-something best friends living in Manhattan struggle to keep up with their rent, mourn the death of a beloved cat, and try to get away for the weekend in Los Angeles to little avail. 2014; Gravitas Ventures; Not Rated; 79 minutes.
The Young: Apartment Troubles is a film written, directed, and starring Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler, two former roommates and real life personal friends, who spend much of the film’s runtime traipsing across the continental United States on foot, by car, and by air. Over the course of the film, Prediger and Weixler engage in an intimacy tactfully represented, suggestive of a romantic relationship never entirely divulged or overtly identified by the film’s script or the characters themselves. While on vacation in Los Angeles, the film’s unconventional couple spend an ill conceived amount of time in the home of Weixler’s estranged game show host aunt, are almost killed by a reckless driver operating under the influence of copious amounts of prescription medication mixed with alcohol, and fail miserably at finding peace and relaxation on the West Coast, the promise of youth in a state of decline for the film’s ill fated, transient soul searchers.
The Lost: When the film opens, its hard to say whether or not Prediger and Weixler belong to one another, themselves, or the city, their landlord’s notice of their imminent eviction the bell tolling their state of complete dislocation, professionally, personally, and spiritually. Seemingly, the film’s road trip nature would suggest a search for meaning of some kind for Prediger and Weixler. But just what that meaning could possibly entail is obfuscated by an inherent disinterest on the part of the characters in making concessions of any kind to conformity, or, at the very least, a begrudging concession of having been defeated. As Weixler’s aunt so astutely puts it, Weixler’s artistic output is far too eccentric for someone so young, an analysis of her self-defeating volition that goes both way’s for the film’s two protagonists. Prediger is just as lost in her own aimless slew of acting auditions for roles emotionally unfulfilling, belying the dead end road of continuing down the path of adolescent abandon that she and Weixler appear loath to leave behind.
The Lonely: Much of Apartment Troubles is lifted and inspired by other works of similarly precocious, young person ennui, from Lena Dunham’s feature film debut Tiny Furniture to Comedy Central’s comedy satire Broad City, only Prediger and Weixler aren’t quite so succinct at stating their characters’ purpose through usefulness. Dunham’s constant caricature of herself can be grating and self-indulgent, but the parody at work in a show like Girls is gloriously self-defined. Likewise, Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are admittedly privileged, well educated Manhattanites whose individual concerns are largely self-centered, but the means by which they contextualize those dilemmas makes them funny and uncannily relatable. While Prediger and Weixler depict the loneliness of being in your twenties without any clear sense of direction, Apartment Troubles never offers a reason why the viewer should care about its characters’ particular angst, evoking a familiar scenario without examining its underpinnings to the larger culture and social consciousness.
Overall: Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler have something to say about their experiences as young people living in the twenty-first century, but Apartment Troubles struggles to offer anything novel in the telling.