Brief Interviews With Hideous Men

by Tom Ingram

Genre Literary
People Julianne Nicholson; John Krasinski d.p.w.a.; David Foster Wallace w.; Timothy Hutton; Dominic Cooper; Will Arnett
/10 7

A psychology grad student (Julianne Nicholson) is interviewing men as part of a thesis on the effect of feminism on masculinity. Timothy Hutton is her thesis advisor, John Krasinski her former boyfriend. The interviewees include Dominic Cooper and Will Arnett, among many others. Based on the short stories by David Foster Wallace.

Krasinski, the man behind this wacky enterprise, probably could have picked his subject matter better. Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, the brilliant collection of short stories, is not easily filmable, and the Brief Interviews themselves are arguably one of the less important parts of the collection (the most important being “Octet” and “The Depressed Person”). Believe it or not, it would probably be easier to make a good adaptation of Infinite Jest. Many of the interviews are reproduced almost verbatim (with the language filed down somewhat in the swearier bits), and while DFW was a brilliant writer, the man was constitutionally incapable of writing a terse, straightforward sentence.

A plot has been added to give structure to the whole thing. The interviewer, whose existence and opinions were only implied in the book, is here in the flesh, although she is given so little to do she may as well not be. The monologues are laboriously worked in, almost like thinly-justified musical numbers. The impressive collection of actors do their parts well enough, but good character performances do not make a good movie. People who loved the book might as well watch it; it’s mercifully short. But it’s a failed experiment.

Those who haven’t would be better off reading the book. Here is a taste of Wallace’s writing, if you’re interested.

1h20m; 2009; Colour