Listen Up Philip29 Mar 2015
Cinematic narcissists are pretty common. It’s easy to revert to writing about and directing a character obsessed with himself (and it is often a him) because of the nature of film as a medium. The audience buys a ticket, sits in a chair, gives you 2 hours of their attention, expects to connect to something and hopes to walk away at the end with a new thought. Doing this by creating a character so involved with himself that you can fully explore, at least, one person is a pretty sensible thing to do. I also, unfortunately, find it sort of lazy.
If it weren’t for the cover-art, I don’t think I would’ve compared Listen Up Philip to Harold and Maude, but the comparison is not too far fetched. Harold is a narcissist if there ever was one. Obsessed with his own death. Philip is a narcissist, but instead of being obsessed with his own death, he’s obsessed with more earthly things. Fame, respect, status, among others. Despite the fact that death is a boring subject, Harold is endearing, charming and lovable. Philip is not. That could also be my aversion to Jason Schwartzman speaking. (I’m a fan of Wes Anderson’s films, despite his insistence on casting Schwartzman everywhere).
Listen Up Philip is saved, however, by Elizabeth Moss. Moss seems to be saving a lot of projects of late. Which, I suppose, is a real testament to her acting, intellect, ability to find something meaningful to share about each character she’s handed.