August 29, 2022

SCREEN | Drawing Comedy – 'Funny Pages' Colours Grime

"No one in this room is an artist!"
Daniel Zolghadri Matthew Maher Owen Kline | Funny Pages A24
A24 / Sphere Films
First-time writer/director Owen Kline (son of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates) shoots the abrasive Funny Pages about a particularly dickish New Jersey high school dropout (Daniel Zolghadri) desperate to become a comic book artist through an appropriate griminess to the world he captures on grainy 16mm film.

Co-produced by the Safdie brothers and drawing strong parallels to Ghost World and the works of Robert Crumb, Kline's debut feature commits to its creepy aesthetic. Zolghadri as Robert is abrasive and caustic in his pursuit of becoming a cartoonist but his determination after his art teacher, the only adult he knows who truly understands and encourages him, dies in front of him despite hinting at unhealthy tendencies in their odd relationship.

Co-starring Matthew Maher and Miles Emanuel as a troubled former comic book colourist, who Robert becomes infatuated with, and his equally geeky best friend, Funny Pages feels so specific to its suburban east coast setting of wintery dreariness. Kiline frames this world much like the dirty absurdist comic strips his main character is obsessed with drawing.

It's an extremely weird yet endearingly scrappy film without a conventional story arc or resolution. Funny Pages' strange characters exist and go through life trying their best and run into societal obstacles in very darkly comic ways. Kline has a distinct voice exploring the kinds of artists who create cult underground comics and hang out at indie book shops. His film very much feels like an anti-coming-of-age movie.

Funny Pages is available to stream on various digital platforms and through video on demand.


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