Within the first two minutes of Matt McCormick’s Some Days Are Better Than Others, it was clear that he had, whether intentionally or not, directed a very hip film. For starters, it takes place in Portland, and one of the opening scenes is of a lead character shopping at a thrift store and playing with a toy panda bear. Oh, and that character, Katrina, is played by Carrie Brownstein, known by some as one of the ladies of Sleater-Kinney, the seminal Pacific Northwestern riot grrl band, and known by others as Fred Armisen’s sidekick on the IFC show Portlandia.

Driven by sparse dialogue and creative shots, it’s a movie in the vein of Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble and Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know. Like the latter, the film follows a number of loosely related characters whose connections become clearer as the story progresses. Katrina (Brownstein) is an aspiring reality show star working with rejected pets at an animal shelter and dealing with being dumped. Eli (James Mercer, frontman for the Shins) is a bearded, bike-riding, pseudo-political slacker crushing on his lesbian roommate while working temp jobs and hanging out with his sort-of grandfather Otis (David Wodehouse). And Camille (Renee Roman Nose) … well, we don’t know too much about Camille, other than that she lives alone and sorts merchandise for a thrift store, sifting through other people’s discarded objects. Her plotline revolves around finding an urn filled with a child’s ashes, something she becomes fixated on.

An overwhelming sense of loss hovers over the film. Katrina and Camille are faced with it daily in obvious ways. Then Eli takes a job cleaning out the house of a deceased woman, bagging up her dentures and her diapers because her family members didn’t care enough to do it themselves. Other examples are understated and purely visual, with beautifully filmed shots of shuttered-up homes and buildings in the demolition process. These wordless scenes, soundtracked with haunting ambient music, outnumber the ones with dialogue.

Unfortunately, there are too many little ideas here and not enough big ones. Just as you get invested, it ends. As Eli, Mercer is the most natural actor of the cast, and the most likable character. We all know this guy, the idealistic flake, who says he likes to temp because he’s too afraid to commit to anything. Katrina is relatable, though a bit naive. And Camille. Oh, Camille. McCormick spends so much less time on her than the others. As a result, she’s a pretty one-dimensional character who is exclusively consumed with her plight to find the owner of the child’s ashes. And she’s lonely, but so is everyone else in the film. Her story is almost extraneous, and would have been better with more development.

Still, there’s a subtlety to Some Days Are Better Than Others that’s actually quite good, little hints at things that you might miss but will make more sense in hindsight. It’s a visual treat, thanks to soggy views of the overcast city. It accomplishes what it sets out to, proving that everyone and everything suffers a varying degree of isolation and death, though maybe those words are a bit strong, since the film ends on a hopeful note. It just might have been better if it were a half-hour longer.