Newcomer Cooper Raiff writes, directs, produces, edits and stars in Shithouse, a film that won the Grand Jury Award at the last edition of SXSW Film Festival. Parties, romances, insecurities, social networks: Raiff condenses American university life in an hour and a half that features everything, from crazy parties in the vein of John Landis’ Animal House to great existentialist conversations about the meaning of life like in Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts.
With echoes of the more romantic and thoughtful side of Richard Linklater, Cooper Raiff wrote the plot of Shithouse focusing on the budding relationship between Alex, a shy and withdrawn college freshman, and Maggie, a mysterious sophomore student who wants to connect with another human being for a few hours. But, far from giving us an overdose of sugary romance, the American director and screenwriter is committed to creating a bittersweet and ambivalent relationship. Their adventure matches the intensity and swiftness with which experiences are lived in the first half of our twenties. What counts is the here and now.
Dylan Gelula, a familiar face of Americana (Her Smell, Support The Girls), offers a nuanced performance, bringing to life a female character who considers herself mature in her immaturity, and falsely boasts of having a heart of stone. Next to her, Cooper Raiff gives a compelling and honest performance as Alex. They are surrounded by a fabulous supporting cast, including Amy Landecker (Transparent) and Logan Miller (Take Me to the River), who play Alex’s mother and roommate, respectively. They both add refreshing and original layers to secondary storylines, and address the difficulty of room-sharing during college years, and flying the nest for the first time.
Endearing and realistic, Shithouse is no doubt one of the coolest films at Americana Film Fest; a debut feature that won’t fail to convince viewers that Cooper Raiff is truly a new talent of indie cinema who already has the support of the industry, the press and the American public. A diamond in the rough. Spanish premiere.