by Hope Madden
I never thought I would miss mumblecore, but here you have it. Co-writer/director Sean Daniel Cunningham transports us back to that time of slight, meandering plots, awkward vulnerability, and low-stakes white people problems.
The thing is, Hudson is pretty great.
As low-key as they come, Hudson follows two estranged cousins on a brief but somewhat eventful road trip one autumn day through Upstate New York. I mean, they don’t really leave the area – they go maybe a couple of hours from home, tops. A game of putt-putt becomes one of the most major events in the adventure. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat thriller is what I’m saying, but it is laid back, sweet and lovely.
Much of that is due to a spot-on performance in the title role by David Neal Levin. Hudson is lovable, sweet and tender due to the recent death of his mother. A middle-aged man still living at home, he mostly writes haiku now, feeds his bird, maybe gets out a remote-control car. Levin’s performance never mocks or belittles the character, never makes him the butt of a joke.
Then Hudson’s cool cousin Ryan (co-writer Gregory Lay) shows up. He’s waiting to do some reshoots for his latest movie, has some time to kill, missed the funeral but wants to hang out now.
The movie sinks or swims on the lived-in relationships. It’s like we’ve dropped into these lives mid-relationship until the cousins pick up a new friend who knows how to get them where they’re going.
Sunrise (played by producer Mary Catherine Greenawalt) gives the film, if not a jolt of energy, then maybe a quiver of it. Her presence allows the writers to explore the cousins’ personas and relationships more deeply, and offers more opportunities for good-natured if not gut-busting humor.
It’s a lovely film. It looks great, performances are solid in a very mellow way, and the resolution feels like a long-coming hug from a buddy. It’s nice.