Overall, I rather enjoyed this film. The script has elements of a slice-of-life comedy balanced against some darker conflicts that emerge towards the end of the film. The brilliance of the film lies in its casting. Each actor embodied just enough of the small-town stereotype assigned to them, while avoiding becoming a caricature. Much of the credit for this goes to Daniel Campbell, who had the difficult task of shaping the actors into characters interesting enough to hold attention through what was ultimately an unevenly paced script.
It's the subplots and the interactions between the characters that really highlight the comedic elements of Antiquities. First, there's Delores (played expertly by Michaela Watkins of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp fame),and Delaney, played by Michael Gladis from Mad Men, who similarly hands in several scene-stealing moments. Their cat-and-mouse interplay is sweet, with Delaney constantly sabotaging his chances with Delores by lying to compensate for his perceived shortcomings, particularly his physical appearance.
One of the funnier moments has Delaney defending his choice to chug five Red Bulls at once by stating deadpan that if he drinks them all now, he won't have to worry about forgetting to drink them later. Delores similarly showcases her comedic chops, including the opening conversation with Walt where she divulges that she's going to get a breast augmentation, but only one of the breasts because it's smaller than the other. Delaney and Delores are clearly meant for each other, and their scenes are among the most poignant and touching in the movie.
Then there's Jimmy Lee (Graham Gordy),who rents space in the store to set up an exhibit that is meant to be an opportunity to sell his antique merchandise. We learn quickly, however, that he can't bear to part with any of his priceless items, and sends customers to other stores to find the same things. Gordy sets up his character perfectly for a rather powerful moment near the end of the film with store manager, Dewey Rey. Dewey (played by Troy Hogan of Friday Night Lights and Free State of Jones fame),is downright hilarious in his role, but also shows his flexibility several times throughout the movie. He also takes every opportunity he can to remind long-time employee Blundale (Roger Scott) that he married his mom, and delights in frequently providing details of their sexual escapades.
And finally, there are the scenes between Walt and his therapist, Dr. Margot. These are arguably the funniest in the film, but unfortunately don't get enough airtime. Mary Steenburgen's Dr. Margot hits all the right notes and shows nearly perfect comedic timing, no doubt a benefit of starring in such comedies as Elf and Back to the Future Part III.
Ultimately, there are a plethora of great moments in this film that are loosely tied together by a script that couldn't seem to get itself going. The scenes at Walt's aunt and uncle's house are important, but sometimes seem thrown in for the sake of reminding us that there's a "twist" coming later. The chemistry between Walt and Ellie seems a little too forced, and the conversations on their dates always include Walt referencing a tragedy that occurred in Ellie's past. With no indication as to how much time passed since they first met, this feels like an unnecessarily aggressive effort to foreshadow one of the conflicts.
In the end, we discover that the conflict was really Walt's own uncertainty about who he was, and who he wanted to become. But it took a while to get there. The directing and the individual performances by this extremely talented cast carry this film, however, and I think we can forgive the pacing issues. We can also appreciate the relatability of the characters and situations to our own lives. Much like Jimmy Lee's antique exhibits, these personalities and these interactions are priceless.