This is a very tricky film. I personally loved it because everything involving Jason Schwartzman is automatically brilliant in my books, and it seems almost a yearly ritual for him to star in one of these mumblecore indie comedies as a meandering intellectual intent on finding the meaning of life, as long as, you know, he doesn’t need to work for it. 7 Chinese Brothers is a film just like its title – absolutely pointless and meaningless, and you either love it, or you hate it.
7 Chinese Brothers is a film that feels that it doesn’t need to tell you any coherent story. It is a collection of brilliantly strange moments dealing with Larry, a lovable loser who has absolutely no direction in life, other than to the liquor store. His constant firing from his minimum wage jobs do not deter him in the least, nor do they force him to actually put some perspective into his life. The only two people important in his life are his grandmother, and his dog. Everyone else is just a fleeting moment in his existence, and he pays very little attention to them.
Schwartzman is fantastic and is at his comedic best here as Larry. His witty snark and lovable intellectual elitism is absolutely endearing, and it reminds me of why Schwartzman is one of the most underappreciated comedic actors of our time, and one that deserves every bit of acclaim that comes his way. Joining him in the cast are two brilliant performers. The first is Olympia Dukakis, an undeniable gem of an actress with wit as sharp as a knife and a wonderful screen presence. Playing Schwartzman’s feisty grandmother, she is adorable and truly fantastic.
The biggest scene-stealer, however, is Arrow Schwartzman, Jason’s real-life French bulldog. It is very strange to actually describe what the tiny dog does here as a performance, but he is truly very adorable and his reactions, even as unplanned as they are, are hilarious. I am a firm believer that the bond between an owner and their pet is tangible, and the chemistry between Jason and Arrow was wonderful and hilarious and just fantastic overall.
There really isn’t much to say about this film. It is pointless, and I mean that in the best way possible. It is unabashedly about nothing. Nothing really happens, and it is simply a collection of wonderfully hilarious and poignant moments. It is a really short film, clocking in at only 74 minutes, which makes it officially the shortest film that I have ever reviewed, which is probably why this review is so short overall. There really isn’t much to say about the film, because all traditional aspects to review it on are really absent, which is not a bad characteristic of this film at all, because it is a fun, unique and very fresh perspective. It is always a major positive when a film is able to do something very new and still remain entertaining, and I have to hand it to all involved, they truly made a very unique film here.
Luckily, 7 Chinese Brothers is short enough to not bore anyone to death with its nihilistic approach to life, so nearly everyone should be able to make it through unscathed. The question is, does everyone want to see this film? It is a small, quirky little comedy that is filled with great offbeat humor and lovely character development, but other than that, it is really just a simple, meandering look at life, which I adore, but other people might not. I think the audience for this film is certainly those viewers like me, who only watched this film because Schwartzman was the lead. Other than that, I don’t quite know how to recommend these to people in a way that makes it seem broadly appealing, because quite honestly, it isn’t. Its a fun, hilarious film, but it is very simple and really pointless, which is an acquired taste. However, I do urge you to give it a try, because it is a fantastic film.