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Film / My Effortless Brilliance

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My Effortless Brilliance is a 2008 "mumblecore" comedy directed by Lynn Shelton and starring Basil Harris, Sean Nelson, Jeanette Maus, and Calvin Reeder. Eric Lambert Jones is an out-of-shape author who strikes it big with his first novel. He calls Dylan, a long estranged friend, to celebrate with Indian food. Dylan shows up with the food, calls Eric an asshole and a horrible friend, and leaves. Two years later, Eric tracks Dylan down in his remote Washington cabin and the two awkwardly explore the tattered remnants of their friendship against a background of woodsplitting, alcohol, and cougars.


This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: It's left unclear as to whether Eric was an asshole before he made it big on his first book, but it's definitely indicated that he got worse.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: After a night of drinking, they decide to go hunting a cougar in the dead of night.
  • City Mouse: Eric is definitely out of his element, although he generally has the sense to step back and let other people handle things he doesn't understand.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. The conversations between Dylan and Eric are rambling and often stop with awkward pauses as they try to figure out their next thing to say.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: At the beginning of the film, Dylan and Eric are estranged. By the end, they are... pretty much just as estranged.
  • Snipe Hunt: May or may not have been the point of the cougar hunt.
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  • Title Drop: "My Effortless Brilliance" is the name of Eric's first book.


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