Fits and Starts ★★★★

Writer/director Laura Terruso’s comedy of manners is very much in the spirit of the SXSW hit 'Hello, My Name is Doris' (which she co-wrote) a couple of years back: an offhandedly funny character comedy with genuine sweetness at its center. And it’s a depressingly rare reminder of the leading-man gifts of Wyatt Cenac, who is pitch perfect as a self-sabotaging novelist whose wife’s runaway success has put him even further into his own head. He conveys the intelligence and neuroticism of a young Woody Allen here, without leaning on any of the obvious tics, and he gets a good, lived-in vibe going with his onscreen wife, the wonderful Greta Lee. Terruso’s got a real eye and ear for the details of artistic pretentiousness and New York living, and if the complications that spur the action are a bit of a stretch, Cenac’s increasingly frazzled disposition keeps us engaged.