Watch: Jason Schwartzman and Alex Ross Perry Discuss Their New Film, ‘Listen Up Philip’

Writer and director Alex Ross Perry’s latest film, Listen Up Philip, stars Jason Schwartzman as a disgruntled novelist on the brink of success, grappling as it estranges him from his life. As Philip distances himself from his girlfriend, Ashley, played by Elisabeth Moss, he finds solace in a new mentor, who shares the same apathy for the people around him.

In this week’s VICE Meets, Reihan Salam sits with Perry and Schwartzman to talk about success, working together, and the pains of changing without growing.

I liked the idea of telling the story of a girl going through a breakup. It was real, honest, and true to life. I moved to New York when I was nineteen and spent my twenties here in the city. That idea of breaking up with somebody and spending the summer in the city was so relatable to me. I’ve done that, and I’ve seen my girlfriends do it too. I’ve experienced this exact arc in my own life.

Elisabeth Moss

We talk to the actress about her role in Listen Up Philip and working with Alex Ross Perry and Jason Schwartzman

Listen Up Philip (2014) - by Alex Ross Perry, starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, and Krysten Ritter


First Impressions Audio Review


Listen Up Philip, writer and director Alex Ross Perry’s 16mm shot dramedy, is quite a brutal film. As a study of isolation in character, as well as intense divulging in narcissism, the movie has a novelistic quality and structure that both adds to the film and slightly detracts from it, as far as pacing and strength goes. Where the film’s strengths are, plenty of which there are, can be heavily attributed to the performances, specifically in its 3 leads (Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, and Jonathan Pryce) and 1 supporting actor (Krysten Ritter). Their performances combine nuance with very blunt delivery and social urgency. Perry’s stylistic approach to the film pulls from a lot of contemporary similarities, in movies like Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale, which this film feels almost like a prequel of sorts to, and differing aspects of Wes Anderson’s various films, especially in how the film’s narrator functions, as well as the unique world at the core that isn’t so fantastical, but ultimately is its own world nonetheless. That said, Perry’s style is absolutely all his own at this point, having made this film and another great dramedy a couple years ago called The Color Wheel. He’s churned out a fascinating character study that takes its time a little too often, but ends up blending laser precision and complexity in character study into a witty and slightly alcoholic success of a dramatic and comedic cocktail.

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Listen Up, Philip (2014)

If you stripped Wes Anderson of his annoying, forced quirk and added a dash of Woody Allen you would get Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up, Philip. It’s not a stellar film—but it’s a pretty good one and worth a watch if you have the ability of stomaching unlikable characters without having it affect your overall viewing experience. 

Sidenote: this is probably Jason Schwartzman’s best performance since Rushmore


Jason Schwartzman was last at the Festival over 10 years ago with John Leguizamo and Mena Suvari premiering Jonas Åkerlund’s Spun during the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.  Schwartzman returns to the Festival this year for the premiere of Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip, alongside Krysten Ritter.

Photos by Jemal Countess/WireImage and Kristin Murphy/WireImage