Semans’s mode is small scale but not quite mumblecore. The acting is disciplined (particularly impressive in that the characters are uniformly unsympathetic) and the timing is carefully worked out with regards to Paul’s slow-motion breakdown. The student’s irrational obsession with his misplaced book, which increasingly appears to be a displaced, and somewhat masochistic, obsession with the dread Nancy, makes for a tense, even nerve racking (if often ridiculous) spectacle.
It’s a brutally unsympathetic portrait of situational anxiety that withholds comfort from Paul and viewer alike, and Mr. Semans refuses to relent. He understands that those squirrels scurrying in your walls and that bug floating in your coffee are easier to deal with than an angry adviser and an uncertain future, but don’t for a moment expect him to commiserate.