In this small-scale, nasty and even snivelling film born in the Classmates.com/Friends Reunited era, young sleek winner Chuck (Chris Weitz) returns to his hometown and falls somehow back into the orbit of old childhood chum Buck, who in the intervening years has polished his dweebieness into something altogether needier and more pathological. Buck is a stalker in other words and, having met Chuck again, he locks on hard. Mike White plays Buck and also wrote the film. He cut his teeth on slightly squeaky TV shows about high school, such as Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, before turning to the dark side with this twisted debut. It was a welcome breath of stale air at Sundance in 2000, where it stood out against the usual wholemeal fare – embattled noble little people doing the right thing being one of Sundance’s big things, Robert Redford having made Ordinary People, let’s not forget. For anyone who has ever left their hometown and heaved a sigh of relief, Chuck & Buck is the flipside, when all that “I gotta get outta Dodge” smugness is paid back in nightmares. But what really sets Chuck & Buck apart is that unlike other stalker movies – Misery, for example – it keeps the viewer’s sympathies firmly with the stalker, not the stalkee. A masterstroke. It’s definitely a film to watch, preferably with binoculars.
© Steve Morrissey 2013