12. Yvonne

What follows after dinner is a really, really long scene (that I am going to spend very little space on) filled with uncomfortable moments, a disgusting looking chocolate cake and a call from someone named Yvonne. That part really sticks with me because, until that call, the young woman had received the calls always from the name she was in the moment. Who, then, is Yvonne?

And what were Jake’s parents arguing about so loudly in the kitchen? And why is Jake so odd and defensive about Jimmy and his strange behavior and smells? Why does Jake’s dad say he misses the mother terribly when she is in the same room? Why does the young woman put her head on his shoulder afterwards?

Does the tinnitus have anything to do with the janitor and the calls he makes? Why did Jake refer to the place he keeps his tire chains as “the bed” when that’s something you have in a pickup truck, not a car? Was Jake really 50 at that birthday party his mother wants to talk about?

The scene just bombards you with questions and I had to cut this one short and not get into the whole fourth career in gerontology because I just needed a breather. At this point in the movie, Kaufman is overloading us with food for thought. Part of it seems like an effort to confuse us, part of it is preparation for the cavalcade of aging in the next few scenes.

But, quite honestly, this scene really adds up to nothing. None of these questions are definitively answered by what comes ahead, nor are they particularly relevant to where the story is going. We never see the name Yvonne again, making it a perfect metaphor for the scene … it’s an exercise in keeping you off balance and guessing, for the director’s amusement.

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