"Table 19" is a movie for everyone who has ever felt deeply uncomfortable at another person's wedding reception. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement—in fact it would make one of the least appetizing DVD box quotes of all time—but there is such a thing as a under-served market, and this movie serves it. Maybe too well, as we'll see.
The title refers to the number of a table at a wedding reception. It's far away from the bride's and groom's family tables. In fact it's about as far back as you can get and not be out on the street. It takes a while for everyone at the table to figure out the common element that resulted in all of them being placed at this particular table. Suffice to say that they all have a problematic relationship with somebody in the wedding party, and that's how they ended up seated in a corner near a restroom.
You can honestly say of this film by writer/director Macon Blair that they don't make 'em like they used to. "I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore" is an American independent film from the 1990s that just happens to have been released this year.
The stakes are small compared to what tends to happen in American movies now; the story is rather slight; the filmmakers pay closer attention to the small details of character interaction than to the fine points of plot. The whole thing is mainly situational: we get to watch the heroine, Ruth Kimke (Melanie Lynskey) as she reacts to having her house broken into and follow along as she decides to locate and punish the people who did it with help from an oddball neighbor (Elijah Wood's Tony), who's enamored with morning stars and nunchucks.
Devotees of David Brent, the foot-in-mouth comic antihero of the original BBC version of "The Office," will watch the quasi-musical road film "David Brent: Life on the Road" no matter what this review has to say about it. But it's still a bit of a shame that this movie doesn't have more to offer than one more go-round for a great character, a bigoted twit who has delusions of musical grandeur but knows deep down how limited he is.
David, of course, is the creation of writer/director/actor Ricky Gervais, who memorably portrayed him on the original series and a follow-up TV movie and has continued to bring him back around occasionally since then, to make guest appearances on the American TV spinoff of "The Office," on concert stages, and in the popular YouTube series "Play Guitar with David Brent." This film, which premiered last year, doesn't have much to add beyond a few biographical details.
Matt Zoller Seitz
Film critic and filmmaker.