What Is Mumblecore? Five Films That Fit The Genre

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What is mumblecore: The interjecting nature of film genres makes it difficult to position mumblecore as one standalone category of films because most argue that mumblecore is just another name for indie films.

Well, mumblecore films are just as independent and low-budgeted as indie films but the personal touch attached to mumblecore makes it slightly different from the others. 

The term mumblecore was coined at a regular bar by a sound editor named Eric Masunaga who used to work with director Andrew Bujalski. Eric and Bujalski were discussing the movies they had just seen at Southwest Film Festival in 2005 and in order to draw similarities between the films, Eric called them mumblecore. The term is about the lack of dialogue in some indie films, the actors almost mumble to each other and mostly communicate by gestures and emotions. Although, even the emotions aren’t dramatised as popular films do. They are raw and real. 

Andrew Bujalski who is known as one of the people who initiated the mumblecore movement in the 2000s has tried to disassociate himself from because it is natural for directors to grow and venture into a bigger field where their work is not typecasted as one thing. Directors Lynn Shelton, Joe Swanberg and Noah Baumbach and many other creators made a quantifiable contribution to the genre and for people who enjoyed their works of art in the 2000s will find them as the stars of mumblecore. Even if the genre ceases to exist. 

Here are five of my favourite mumblecore films that perfectly explain the genre:

Frances Ha 

One word: Greta Gerwig. That is possibly the most beautiful part of this film made by Noah Baumbach. The colour scheme is maintained black and white through the screenplay and not for once does the film tries to make you believe in something that is not practically true.

Little Women, greta gerwig

Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ is a Wholesome Adaptation of the Classic

A struggling filmmaker Frances (played by Gerwig) finds herself turning every misery into humorous episodes. The fact is the Greta Gerwig herself was a struggling artist in New York at the time of filming and the film’s narrative is heavily derived from her real life. Her real parents are featured in the film and her hometown, Sacramento also makes finds its mention. 

Drinking buddies 

Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies is something one can describe as an opposite of sensationalism. Even though the film’s story is based on a male-female relationship, one never finds even anything to compare it with a regular romantic-comedy.

The significance of modern relationships, the part of sexual needs and other very unexplored bits are casually brought in the film. The film moves so slow that you almost feel like you are living it. One really important trait of mumblecore carried in the film is that nothing really happens. You just watch two people rejoicing in their bad choices. Something most of us are guilty of. 

Your Sister’s Sister 

When it comes to leading the audience into a crazy world of fictional characters and keeping them interested enough throughout the manic process of the unimaginable turn of events, Lynn Shelton was a master. Sadly, she passed away last year and will no more give us sweet and savoury cinematic moments, her film Your Sister’s Sister is one of her greatest legacies.

Well, according to me of course.  The film basically is a love triangle between two sisters (Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt) and one guy (Mark Duplass). There is, of course, some emotional drama to set it apart from most comedies but it is also endearing. The best part about the film is the sisters’ bond. 

The Puffy Chair 

Mark Duplass’s contribution to the mumblecore genre is his film The Puffy Chair. The film which revolves around a piece of old furniture easily translates the very complex ordeal of adulthood. It is also a film that has many road sequences.

The protagonist with his lady friend takes on a journey and nothing is ever the same. The film makes use of a very different kind of comedy, a kind that either comes naturally to people or doesn’t at all. It is about the real-life romance that often disappoints. 

Martha Marcy May Marlene 

Sean Durkin’s award-winning film Martha Marcy May Marlene might not be called a mumblecore by most but I have my own reason. First of all Elizabeth Olsen’s character hardly utters a few words throughout the film and yet there is no thought and no emotion that she fails to convey.

The story starts in an isolated house tucked away in the woods where Martha finds herself trapped by a cult. She is repeatedly abused physically and emotionally for years and then she is forced to witness the same happening to other girls. The trauma doesn’t leave her when she escapes the house and the film ends on a note that can only give nightmares.