Mike White (The Good Girl, Orange County) wrote and stars in this disturbing but poignant drama about an emotionally stunted young man named Buck who develops an obsession for an old childhood friend named Chuck (Chris Weitz). After Buck’s mother dies, the two men are reunited after years of estrangement and you can immediately tell Chuck is uncomfortable with old pal. While he and his fiancee try to hold Buck at arm’s length, Buck puts on an autobiographical play about their childhood experiences together. Things come to a head after Chuck sees the play and takes Buck up on a controversial ultimatum.
Chuck & Buck strikes an unusual but interesting tone. It could easily have been a horror movie, or I dare say even a comedy. But White and director Miguel Arteta take the straight dramatic approach, which maintains a definite level of creepy discomfort surrounding a same-sex obsession, and also makes its odd main character sympathetic — perhaps mentally ill or otherwise disturbed in ways beyond his control. The third act of the film is somewhat brave and provocative in how it resolves the conflict between the two title characters.
White and Weitz give fine leading performances, and they’re surrounded by pretty solid supporting players in Beth Colt as Chuck’s fiancee, Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live) as Chuck’s co-worker, and Paul Weitz as the actor who plays Chuck in Buck’s play. Lupe Ontiveros is especially good as the woman Buck hires to direct the play. She balances a healthy skepticism about Buck’s odd behavior with genuine concern for his well being.