Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 3/9/09.
Written and directed by Martin Hynes, The Go-Getter tells the story of a 19-year old young man going on a road-trip to find his Latino half-brother to tell him the news that their mother had died. Stealing a stranger's car where he makes contact with its owner, he comes across eccentric people including an old school friend and various other people. Based on Hynes' own road experiences, the film is a part-road movie and part-coming of age film that explores a young man dealing with his mother's death and urging to escape a dull life. Starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel, Jena Malone, Judy Greer, Jsu Garcia, William Lee Scott, Bill Duke, and Maura Tierney. The Go-Getter is a wonderful, dreamy road-movie from Martin Hynes.
19-year old Mercer (Lou Taylor Pucci) lives in a dull town of Eugene, Oregon as his mother had just died. He has a Latino half-brother named Arlen (Jsu Garcia) who is 18 years older than him and hadn't seen him since Mercer was five years old. Deciding to steal a stranger's car at a car wash, he goes on the road where he hears a cell phone that belongs to its owner Kate (Zooey Deschanel). Kate contacts him asking why he stole her car as he tells her what he's doing as she asks to maintain contact. Stopping at a Californian hippie commune where he meets Better than Toast (Judy Greer) and her boyfriend Nick (Nick Offerman), he learns that Arlen had left the commune to go to Reno, Nevada. Mercer knows a girl from nearby Fallon, Nevada that he used to go to school with named Joely (Jena Malone).
The seductive Joely joins him on the road to Reno where they embark on some fun times as Mercer has his first ever sexual experience. Hoping to find where Arlen was last seen in Reno, he meets a porno film director (Julio Oscar Mechoso) who reveals to him where Arlen went as Mercer steals a camera that he later hopes to sell for money. When he finds Joely with her cousin Buddy (Colin Fickes) and friend Rid (William Lee Scott), they ask him to drive them to Mojave, California for a racing thing so they can build their own car. Mercer reluctantly does as Joely becomes distracted by her entourage as Mercer learns who Kate is as their conversation becomes more friendly including a dream sequence with him, Kate, and Joely re-enacting the dance scene from Jean-Luc Godard's 1964 film Bande A Parte.
Trying to get his destination, Buddy, Rid, and Joely have other plans forcing Mercer to hitchhike where he gets picked up by a driver (Bill Duke) who picks him up as they tell each other stories about brothers as he got help in retrieving Kate's car. Mercer continues his trek to Sacramento as he continually talks to Kate until he mentions Joely. Stopping in Sacramento to meet a pet store owner (Maura Tierney) that Arlen worked for, he learns Arlen isn't there as she asks Mercer to be part of a children's band that she is leading for her probation involving a crime that Arlen got her in trouble with. Suddenly, Kate makes an appearance to retrieve her car as she joins him on the road where he learns about Arlen's most recent whereabouts. Realizing he's in Mexico, Mercer ponders what to say as he meets his half-brother for the first time in more than 14 years.
The plot of the film is simple yet really it's about a young man coming of age with help from this young woman whose car he stole. Yet, it's really about two people looking for ways to escape from their dull life as a character like Mercer feels stuck in his hometown with nothing to do after his mother's death. Yet, he feels the need to tell his half-brother, whom he never really knew, about their mom's death. For Kate, contacting Mercer gives her the chance to connect with someone as she needs a form of escape from her own life. Though writer-director Martin Hynes doesn't bring a lot of plot or story to the film, it's really about experiences that are truly magical. Through his dreamy, evocative direction, the film moves along as he takes the audience on a journey that is magical yet exciting. The directing is truly exciting in its locations of the American west as it's a compelling yet wondrous road movie.
Cinematographer Byron Shah does spectacular work with the film's dream-like cinematography from the colorful, rainy look of Oregon to the sunny world of California. The look of each location is distinctive where Reno is more colorful with its nighttime lights and sepia-interior looks while the film has a black-and-white moment in its tribute to the Bande a Parte scene. Editor David Birdsell does excellent work with the editing to create rhythmic jump-cuts for several of the film's road scenes as well as other sequences for quick-cuts that is energetic but doesn't move to fast. At the same time, Birdsell sells the action with slow motion edits for a dream-like feel for some of the phone conversations that Mercer is having with Kate.
Production designer Damon Fortier along with art directors Rob Howeth and Charles Nance do fine work with the look of the hippie commune that Mercer visits along with some locations including the places he goes to. Costume designer Marie Schely does fantastic work with the costumes including the cowboy hats that Lou Taylor Pucci and Bill Duke wears along with band uniforms and the clothes Jena Malone wears to make her look like a sex pot. Sound editor Mitch Gettleman does great work in capturing the sound locations including the phone conversations between Mercer and Kate along with the tape that Mercer listens to on the car.
The film's music mostly consists of songs by M. Ward that definitely works as road material along with music from the Replacements, Animal Collective, the Black Keys, and the late Elliot Smith. The soundtrack includes a duet with M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel on a cover of Richard Thompson's When I Get To The Border that would be the basis for the Ward-Deschanel project She & Him.
The casting by Emily Schweber is excellent with appearances from M. Ward along with Nick Offerman as a potter who hates Arlen and Judy Greer as a hippie chick. Appearances from Bill Duke as a liquor supplier who helps Mercer retrieve his car and Maura Tierney as a pet store owner are memorable for their cameos along with Julio Oscar Mechoso as a porn director under the name a late, famous film director. Jsu Garcia is fine as Mercer's half-brother Arlen while Colin Fickes and William Lee Scott are good as Joely's troublesome entourage. In a role that's definitely against type of sorts, Jena Malone is great as the seductive Joely who uses her womanly ways to get Mercer to do anything. Though she doesn't have the look of a sex object, Malone definitely sells herself as a manipulative young woman while proving that she can be sexy with a nice little butt-crack. Mmmmmm....
Zooey Deschanel is excellent as Kate, a quirky young woman who lets Mercer take her car while engaging into fruitful conversations about anything while appearing to him in dreams as a companion until she comes along for real. Deschanel is truly mesmerizing in her appearance as she and Lou Taylor Pucci have great chemistry while maintaining her dream-like persona. Finally, there's Lou Taylor Pucci in what is an amazing performance from the young actor. Following his superb breakthrough role in 2005's Thumbsucker, Pucci is proving to be one of the best young actors working while not giving in towards Hollywood convention. Pucci's naive, wondrous performance as a young man trying to find his long-lost half-brother is filled with realism and imagination as it's a wonderful performance from Pucci who has great rapport with his co-stars while making Mercer into a relatable character.
The Go-Getter is an excellent film from Martin Hynes featuring some great work from Lou Taylor Pucci, Zooey Deschanel, and Jena Malone. Fans of these actors will no doubt enjoy their performances along with the music of M. Ward while fans of quirky, dreamy indie road movies will find something wonderful to look at. Though it doesn't have a strong plot and a quirkiness that might not be for everyone. It's still a compelling, fascinating film that has something to offer. In the end, for a road film that is beautiful along with a story about an experience that is unforgettable, The Go-Getter is the film to see.
(C) thevoid99 2011