Listen Up Philip

Screening on Film
Directed by Alex Ross Perry.
With Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce.
US/Greece, 2014, 35mm, color, 108 min.
Print source: Cinema Conservancy

Openly inspired by the writings of Perry’s long-time idol Philip Roth, and his Zuckerman novels in particular, Listen Up Philip gives Jason Schwartzman one of his best roles to date as an eccentric and insufferable writer perched at the edge of a successful career he both feels entitled to and secretly fears. A cautionary tale about hubris and artistic ambition, Listen Up Philip is also a cutting satire of the writer’s life that seems to embrace, only to upend, all too well known literary rites of passage: the dissolution of a toxic relationship, acceptance into incestuous salons, mentorship with an older writer that sours into rivalry. Using a ruminative voiceover (spoken by Eric Bogosian), Perry tellingly gives his film a novelistic richness of perspective, at one point breaking away from Schwartzman’s Philip to follow his photographer girlfriend, given real depth by a marvelous Elisabeth Moss—in her first collaboration with Perry—while also lingering on the figure of the older writer-mentor played with nervous intensity by the great Jonathan Pryce.

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