Overnight, Netflix released its latest foray into original content: Girlfriend’s Day, a bizarre, brazen film noir that explores the seedy underbelly of… the multi-billion dollar greeting card industry. Co-written, produced, and starring Bob Odenkirk, Girlfriend’s Day is a unique experiment in feature filmmaking — and not just because it’s so reminiscent of some of the avant-garde bits that Mr. Show offered up back in its heyday as the leader in late night TV’s cult weirdness.
Just a few hours before the movie would be made available online, Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse held a screening of the film, with director Michael Paul Stephenson in attendance, and Odenkirk himself via Skype, to talk about the process of making this movie.
Building on a draft written by Eric Hoffman, who worked as a scribe on Mr. Show, and Philip Zlotorynski, Odenkirk said the appeal was immediate.
“He’s a romance (card) writer with no romance in him. He’s a negative misanthrope who hates people. I just love that voice, and I love that crabby guy and his hatred of everything. That’s funny to me.”
By setting the film inside the world of greeting cards, an entity that everyone knows of but doesn’t know anything about, he and Stephenson were able to craft a unique, wholly original cinematic experience. A serious (but not too serious) farce that plays heavily off classic tropes of the noir era, the film is even described as their Chinatown.
“It’s really a unique little project. It doesn’t have any purpose, it’s not stating anything about society, (and) it’s something that would not get made in the world we’re in right now. Yet, it’s charming and funny and oddball, and for a certain audience that likes oddball, it could be satisfying.”
Along with the incomparable story, it manages to bridge a mishmash of genres while keeping a consistent tone throughout. It also clocks in at a mere 65 minutes, a conspicuously short runtime that still tells its story without feeling abbreviated.
With such a disregard for convention, Odenkirk credits Netflix for being the kind of studio that allows for artists to deliver projects that are proudly outside the box, and a place where “an audience with curious minds can find offbeat stuff — and it will find them.”
“I think it’s a curious little thing that needs to exist on its own. It’s a high-wire act, it’s a little tricky. It’s a unique film, and I feel like its going to find its audience over time. Maybe they watch it once and think ‘I didn’t really get it.’ Then, a year later, they press play on Netflix, and it’s their favorite movie ever. We beat Chinatown. I don’t know, but I think it’s gonna sink in over time.”
Girlfriend’s Day is currently available to stream on Netflix.