Ceremony (2010)

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Michael Anganaro in 'Ceremony'

Written and Directed by Max Winkler

Starring Michael Anganaro and Uma Thurman

Max Winkler’s superb Ceremony feels like a collaboration between Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach’s dark examinations of quirky family dramedies. Michael Anganaro has been quietly carving out an impressive resume of under the radar performances that turn coming-of-age characters on their head. Ceremony is his coming out party. Anganaro’s Sam is a young man who plows through life with blind confidence and self-conscious maturity. He will out talk you in an argument, regardless of whether he’s in the right or not. He’s also fallen in love with an older woman (Uma Thurman) and has set out over a long weekend to sabotage her impending nuptials, win her back and destroy her pretentious fiancee’s love life in the name of his own, romanticized arrogance.

He brings along his friend, a shut in after being pistol whipped a year earlier. Reece Thompson is very good as the nervous, impatient friend. His self-consciousness and hesitancy matches well with Anganaro’s over-confident character. Lee Pace steals his scenes as the arrogant documentarian fiancee, who finds every chance he can to remind people what an amazing, well versed intellectual and humanitarian he is, when in fact he’s a hack and a bit of a moron.

Anganaro’s performance is a fireball of confidence and self-aware humor. His character is shockingly confident and controls every situation he’s in, even as he careens towards social disaster, side stepping land mines of social faux pas at every step.

The wedding is full of predictably quirky characters, like Thurman’s brother Teddy, a wise cracking lovable drunk and all around party animal played by relative newcomer Jake M. Johnson, who is kind of a cooler version of David Krumholtz. Uma Thurman gives a light, fun performance, conflicted in her love life but never going too dark with the character.

The film zig zags between the large cast of characters as we learn tidbits about people through strong expositional dialogue. The strength of the film is finding emotional resonance with a consistent tone of melancholy good humor. This is an intelligent, self-aware under the radar romantic comedy with the heart of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the soul of Ernest Hemingway.

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