“I started reading the script and 10 or 15 pages into it I was put off by the character and blown away by some of the things he would consider saying to people,” says Jason Schwartzman on first reading Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip. “I felt like I needed to take a break…like I need to get out of here for a second.” But for Schwartzman, he found himself being pulling him back for more, eventually falling under the spell of Perry’s caustically charming world. And for a film about the personal and artistic struggles of a misanthropic novelist grappling with his latest work and the foibles of his love life, it’s only fitting that Schwartzman experienced reading the script the way he would a good book—piece by piece, finishing one chapter and allowing time for it to sink in before devouring the next.
For the undeniably lovable Schwartzman, whose strange and shrewd sense of comedic timing and talent has won over audiences since his wonderful breakout performance in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, Listen Up Philip allows him to show his nastier, more sadistic side. Alongside an impressive and brilliantly acted cast of Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, Dree Hemingway, and Josephine de La Baum, we follow the sardonic and narcissistic Philip as he awaits the publication of his second novel, fresh off the success of his debut. In an attempt to escape the city to write, and avoid the deteriorating relationship with his girlfriend (Moss), Philip flees for an isolated summer home owned by his literary idol (Pryce). Guided by an omnipresent narrator, shot on beautiful 16mm, and featuring a silky jazz score by Keegan DeWitt, Listen Up Philip possesses a refreshingly timeless touch that is as intricately-crafted as it is brutal.
Bitterly Charming: Jason Schwartzman Gets Abrasive for ‘Listen Up Philip’