Movie News & Reviews

In ‘Tumbledown,’ Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall can’t get back up: 2 stars

A widow (Rebecca Hall) and professor (Jason Sudeikis) are both interested in writing a book about her late folk singer husband.
A widow (Rebecca Hall) and professor (Jason Sudeikis) are both interested in writing a book about her late folk singer husband. Starz Digital

When Hannah (Rebecca Hall) is introduced in “Tumbledown,” roaming her rustic Maine cabin and working at a typewriter next to her two dogs, you half expect the scene to turn into a coffee commercial (maybe right after the canine reaction shot). The dawdling city-country dramedy that follows could have used the caffeine for its slack story of love after grief.

The tale, directed by Sean Mewshaw and written by Desi Van Til, pairs an ambivalent Hall with a diffident Jason Sudeikis. Hall’s Hannah is hung up on her dead husband, a revered indie-folksinger named Hunter Miles. Sudeikis plays Andrew, a pop-culture academic who visits Hannah while researching a biography of Hunter. Andrew is supposed to be one of those real New York types, with a secret decency. (Maybe that’s the actor’s Kansas City roots showing through.) Hannah, a native to the area, is willowy, wary and protective of Hunter’s catalog of echoic ballads (courtesy of Damien Jurado).

We’re meant to warm to Hannah and Andrew as they wear each other down with good-natured ribbing. But Hall and Sudeikis hardly warm up themselves, showing little chemistry and looking unsure how to play the film’s tone, or the would-be zingers. Their setting is patched together through bits of business with a couple of local townsfolk, and a mini Thanksgiving-homecoming drama when the pair visit Hannah’s family.

One of the sillier parts of the stale screenplay is Andrew’s cool music-biz girlfriend (Dianna Agron). She turns up in Maine to remind us that Hannah and Andrew are on the cusp of romance, in the likely event we’d missed it.

(At AMC Studio 28, Town Center.)

‘Tumbledown’

Rated R. Time: 1:45.

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