Guest Artist is a 2019 American drama film directed by Timothy Busfield and starring Jeff Daniels. It is based on Daniels’ play of the same name.
The story of a young man coming face to face with his hero (Jeff Daniels) and exploring the tangled relationship between the dreams of youth and the wisdom of age.
Small-scale, no-frills and lo-fi, Guest Artist feels like a homegrown project mounted by a couple of talented guys from Michigan. Those guys happen to be Timothy Busfield, who directs, and Jeff Daniels, who scripted and stars.
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Daniels’ effortlessly commanding performance as a blocked and bitter writer is the chief draw in the not particularly taut two-hander.
Though its running time is brief and a lot of the writing is sharp, the tug-of-war between a onetime literary lion and his wide-eyed No. 1 fan lacks the necessary tension to make the drama’s outcome matter.
Daniels adapted his own play, which was originally staged at the Purple Rose Theater Company that he founded in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan, where most of the film was shot. He brings a strong ear for language to his exploration of jaded experience in collision with openhearted innocence.
But it’s a collision we’ve seen many times before, and though Busfield’s eye for scene-setting locations helps to open up the story, the feature never manages to shake off its obvious stage roots or a certain fusty, formulaic structure. Having premiered at Santa Barbara before booking a berth at the Beloit festival in Wisconsin, this not-quite-ready-for-theatrical Guest will continue to find warm welcomes at local festivals.
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