Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg premiered his third feature in three years during SXSW this week, Hannah Takes the Stairs, and just about filled the Paramount theater, which seats 1,200. It's a long way from his Kissing on the Mouth screening at SXSW, which I saw at the tiny Dobie theater two years ago. Like his previous films, Kissing on the Mouth and LOL, the film follows contemporary twentysomethings through ordinary and plausible situations. It's a low-key and enjoyable film with a cast consisting mostly of other indie filmmakers and writers.
Hannah (Greta Gerwig) seems to be drifting through life. She has a boyfriend, Mike (Mark Duplass) whom she seems to like, but suddenly breaks up with him because "he's the funny one. I want to be the funny one." She works for a production company of some sort -- I never quite understood what was going on over there -- with a pair of guys, Paul (Andrew Bujalski) and Matt (Kent Osborne). Paul is trying to negotiate a deal to publish a book based on his blog, while Matt is slightly older and more mature than the other two. After breaking up with Mike, Hannah more or less floats over to Paul, upsetting the office dynamic with their schmoopiness and later with their relationship difficulties. She turns to her roommate Rocco (Ry Russell-Young) and to Matt for solace.