We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
In a little town right down the imaginary road from "Pleasantville" and Seahaven (where Truman lives), a psychologist sets up shop. His name is Mumford. The town's name is Mumford. Mumford is also the name of a great writer on towns and cities, but any connections between these Mumfords are left unexplored. Folks are too busy living their lives to spare the time.
Mumford is so carefully visualized in Lawrence Kasdan's new film that you'd sort of like to live there. Yes, it has its problems, its troubled people and lonely lives. But the arrival of Mumford (Loren Dean) seems to help. He rents an apartment from Lily (Alfre Woodard), who owns the coffee shop, and begins to listen to people's problems. Soon he is the most popular psychologist in town, and it's hard to say exactly why.
His dialogue, as written by Kasdan, is so circular and comforting that at times we almost feel we're on the couch ourselves. He rarely responds directly to anything. But on the other hand, he doesn't use the old professional formulas, either; you won't hear him asking, "What do you think about that?" Instead, he has a kind of oblique conversational style. He angles off in new directions. He encourages lateral thinking. People provide a lot of their own answers.
Kasdan has been attracted over the years to movies with large casts; like Robert Altman, he wants to know everybody in town. His credits include "The Big Chill" and "Grand Canyon," and "Mumford" is another ensemble piece. Sooner or later most everyone wanders across Doc Mumford's path.