The worst possible marriage of film school navel gazing and the pretensions of a creative writing program, "Listen Up Philip" asks us to waste our time watching two successful, but utterly loathsome writers as they alienate everyone around them, including the women who (astonishingly) love them.
Despite fine acting from a solid cast, you'd have a better time setting your hair on fire than watching writer/director Alex Ross Perry's work.
Philip Friedman (Jason Schwartzman) is a young novelist and full-time depressive living with girlfriend and professional photographer Ashley (Elisabeth Moss). He's the kind of guy for whom the glass is not just half empty, it's totally drained. Obnoxious, full of himself and utterly insufferable, his second novel is about to be released, but he's driving his publisher and everyone around him crazy with his demands, ego trips and phobias.
Yet it turns out that Philip's idol, Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce, basically playing Philip Roth), has read his book, likes it, and wants to meet him. The two soon form a friendship, which is no big surprise, since Ike is just an aging version of his young protégé - he's an intellectually abusive lout who has driven away anyone who has ever helped him, and takes great delight in putting down his needy daughter (Krysten Ritter).
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Most of the film is given over to these two acting horrid to friends, family, students, you name it. The one ray of light comes in the form of Ashley, who finally realizes that the only thing Philip brings to her life is misery. It seems to take her a long time to come to that conclusion - anyone else would have sucker punched Philip five minutes after meeting him - but hey, at least there's one person in this film who exhibits some form of personal growth.
Despite Schwartzman's utter believability in the title role - he's been playing variations of this character since his debut in "Rushmore" - the film becomes truly tedious about an hour in. All this repugnant behavior really starts to wear, and things aren't helped at all by extensive voiceovers (narrated by Eric Bogosian), which come directly from the School of Pseudo-Psychological Claptrap.
If the point of "Listen Up Philip" is that talented people can also be colossal jerks - well, that's about as eye-opening as saying that pizza is a hugely popular menu item. Come to think of it, I've gotten more pleasure from a slice then this over-ripe, and rancid, exercise in cinematic affectation.