7 Chinese Brothers might be the most unique film I’ve seen so far (although take that with a grain of salt – I ended up at some of the larger releases, while Erik and Cara have done a bit more probing through some of the festival’s deeper cuts). The movie comes in at an extremely brisk 76 minutes, and actually has nothing at all to do with a Chinese family. Instead, it’s the tale of Larry (Jason Schwartzman), an uninspired blue collar worker recently fired from his job who frequently visits his grandmother who lives in a nursing home, his only living relation.
It’s a peculiar movie, and one that, within any particular scene, is a little slow. Larry plays the sardonic clown with everyone he meets, and that sort of drags out every scene in an amusing way as you wonder, “WTF is this guy on?” It’s hardly every a laugh-out-loud funny movie, but it’s consistently a quietly amusing one that gently pulls you forward, especially once the plot gets rolling.
It also knows how not to out-stay its welcome. 76 minutes is an extremely short feature, but brevity is an asset here. It’s essentially a movie about the simple pleasures in life and the value of a job you don’t hate, and there don’t need to be sweeping plot twists to get to the small but important character arc that Larry achieves.
There’s no distribution lined up for 7 Chinese Brothers yet, but with Schwartzman in the lead I’m betting this gets a VOD release through Netflix or Amazon. I hope so. I’d love to talk to some more people about it. Up until I saw the film, I’d heard people around SXSW mention it a couple times, but haven’t really been able to engage them on it yet. Hopefully soon to come!