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‘The Argument’ review: A vicious cycle

Yes, it matters who’s right.

Everyone has been in an argument where they wish it was possible to rewind time. “I wish I could record you sometimes,” is a common refrain heard at these moments. They would not go back to prevent the fight from ever happening. The point is to prove to the other person why it is they were wrong to begin with. Because few things are more important in life than proving to someone why they are wrong.

The Argument is about Jack and his girlfriend Lisa. The couple get into an argument at a dinner party they are having. As is often the case in these situations, the party is ruined and the guests leave. Knowing it is impossible to go back and see who started the argument, the two decide on the next best thing; they figure the best thing to do is to keep recreating the incident to determine who is right.

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As intentionally ridiculous as it is, there is a problem inherent with the premise. Much like a movie involving time travel, the audience is being asked to revisit the same scenes over and over again. The difference is time travel is a theoretical concept that also requires the audience to use their imaginations. The Argument is a petty situation that seems made to test the audience’s patience.

As labored as the concept is, with the right performances and clever writing, it is also the set up for a uniquely fun movie. The Argument comes close to pulling it off, but it just misses the mark. The script definitely has its laughs, but there are not enough to warrant the same moment being done repeatedly. It would make sense to freshen things up each time, but Lisa warns the audience early what they are in store for when she tells her guests she has a photographic memory.

Instead, The Argument builds to its frantic and funny final act. It is at this point the first two thirds of the movie make a little more sense. Every little action from the beginning all leads to a payoff in the movie’s final moments. Even the cast seems to turn it up.  While the entire movie has its laughs, it is the finale that is the most enjoyable by far.

If a movie follows a conceit too closely, audiences and critics may immediately dismiss it as being too gimmicky. The writing will be accused of not being strong enough. The Argument may end up suffering from this problem. The premise is certainly a interesting one, but the repetitive nature of the story will make it a difficult watch.

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