Results ★★★½

Bujalski’s grand theme at this point is the messiness of human psychology and its failure to fit neatly within the social structures of the working world, the 21st century’s peculiar matrix of fiscally and digitally motivated behavior intended to achieve professional success. His career thus far sees him finding new and unlikely milieus in which to analyze this behavior with each subsequent film. Results continues the trend. A feel-good fitness center? Why not. Bujalski clearly has a mixture of curiosity and bewilderment toward the subject of fitness that’s solidified in a recurring shot—one that's mostly unmotivated narratively—of an inelegant jogger seen from the point of view of a lazy onlooker. What kind of character does it take to harness the discipline required to ruthlessly pursue physical perfection? In the case of personal trainer Trevor (Guy Pearce), there’s a whole philosophy of spiritual wellness driving it, but to recognize that is not enough for Bujalski, whose skill is in orchestrating situational comedy that forces its characters to question their unquestioned assumptions. Results never mocks the fitness craze, but rather treats it to the same scrutiny that Bujalski applied to Beeswax’s small business entanglements or Computer Chess’s software speculation. If a set of rules governing one’s exercise regimen is disallowing the possibility for the expression of certain emotional registers (like desire, joy or sadness), it’s time for self-reckoning.

If Results didn’t hit me quite as hard as Bujalski’s last two, it’s because of the tension in his formal approach between his trademark eccentricities and something more accessible and mainstream (a topic covered pretty thoroughly in Jake Mulligan’s interview with the director). Spoiled perhaps by Computer Chess, his most out-there experiment with the tools and language of filmmaking yet, I suppose I’m just disinterested in watching Bujalski try on for size a conventional montage of time passing and characters evolving set to bouncy indie music. Or in transferring over the spirit of Computer Chess’s zany third-act 16mm glitch sequence in the form of a lamely satirical simulation of a YouTube manifesto by a freakish Eastern European fitness guru (though the scene that follows with said guru is a surefire winner). Much more intriguing is the intercut sequence with Trevor and his business partner/love interest (Cobie Smulders) that occurs later on, which shuffles at an increasingly fast clip between views of both characters jogging through an Austin suburb in the direction of one another, their respective face time accompanied by the music in their headphones. When Bujalski finally disrupts the rhythmic back-and-forth to single out Trevor’s dog waiting in silence as the pair starts talking down the street, it’s one of those playful misdirections that only Bujalski can pull off with such a light touch. Results is remarkably pleasant when it’s finding these strange hiccups within its staged interactions organically; less so when it’s flirting with what a commercially friendly Bujalski movie might look like.