The Only Living Boy in New York

GoMovieReviews Rating:

MThe Only Living Boy In New York

Directed by: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Written by: Allan Loeb (21, The Space Between Us, Just Go with It)

Producers: Albert Berger, Jeff Bridges, John Fogel, Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda, Ron Yerxa

Cinematographer: Stuart Dryburgh

Starring: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Jeff Bridges, Kiersey Clemons.

When Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) bemoans the fact he hasn’t done much in his twenty-something years, his new-found mentor, writer W F Gerald (Jeff Bridges) reminds him, ‘You’ve had sex with your father’s mistress. I’d say that’s something.’

And that’s sort of this film in a nutshell.

Fragile relationships, forbidden love and flawed characters.

Sadly, despite the stellar cast, this is also a flawed movie. Part The Graduate, part Barfly, The Only Living Boy in New York does not reach the heights of either of those films – but to be fair, not too many films do.

That’s not to say this film is to be avoided, there’s plenty to keep one interested for the duration.

Jeff Bridges is clearly enjoying the chance to get down and grungy; the presence of Lou Reed (through music and references) adds to the New York feel; Cynthia Nixon as Thomas’ mother and Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) wife is nicely understated, and there is obviously other eye candy for most audience members (Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan and Kiersey Clemons).

Thomas, a college graduate, discovers his father, Ethan, is having an affair with a beautiful colleague, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). He decides to follow her and, somehow, for some reason, and with little resistance from either of them, they too sleep together.

At the same time, Thomas’s best friend, Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) announces she’s dropped her muso boyfriend, obviously in the hope of taking her platonic relationship with Thomas to the next stage.

Everyone has decisions to make: unfortunately it’s pretty much the same decision for all of them – who to choose?

The only other substantial revelation/surprise comes toward the end but most will see it coming from a long way away.

One of the main reasons this film does not reach the heights it could have is that it’s hard to feel much for pretentious, cliched, wealthy publishing types.

Their actions are those of New York aristocrats bored with life but lacking the wherewithal to expand their interests outside their circle of influence. They could do anything: travel the world, climb Everest, skydive – anything they want; but they choose to wallow in their own dissatisfaction.

So while there is enough interest to follow their story, one does so with little sympathy for any of them. ‘Wake up guys and smell the flowers’, that’s if flowers grow in New York.

Interestingly, with the actors he had to work with, and the context of the story, Marc Webb fails to make the most of the sexual chemistry that should have oozed off the screen.

On balance, a film that, with more subtlety and nuances, could have been a ‘must see’ but that still has enough to provide for a pleasant ninety minutes to fill – so long as you’re not expecting the class, style and substance of The Graduate.


GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MGifted

Directed by: Marc Webb

Written by: Tom Flynn

Produced by: Karen Lunder, Andy Cohen

Starring: Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Lindsay Duncan, Jenny Slate and Octavia Spencer.

Not usually one for tear-jerkers, I came into Gifted expecting a family drama.  What I didn’t expect was to become so absorbed into the story of this caring uncle, Frank Adler (Chris Evans) and his brilliant young niece, Mary (McKenna Grace) who’s a mathematics genius.

Written by Tom Flynn, who was inspired by his own brilliant sister, the script explores family relationships where mothers can’t see the needs of her child, only the gifts to be given to humanity, where uncles are forced into a position to look after a young child without really knowing how to go about it, yet taking the responsibility of creating a family.  Not a usual family, but one of a young brilliant girl, an uncle who probably drinks too much but is all heart, the ever-loving landlady, Roberta (Octavia Spencer) who’s really young Mary’s best friend and Fred, the one-eyed ginger cat.

Movies where a child is the centre and focus can create a gravitational pull towards the precocious.  And there was play around this with young Mary.  However, it was quickly made clear that Frank was going to have none of it.  And seeing the interaction between the two, at how comfortable the young girl was, lying all over this uncle of hers, quickly melted away any pretension.Gifted

This was a beautiful and sweet film.

The addition of high-level mathematics such as The Navier Stokes Equations added to the story without being the true weight.  Gifted is more about the burden that being a genius has on Mary and those around her; of how to let a girl just be a little girl while also nurturing brilliance.

Dr Jordan Ellenberg was brought on board as a Technical Advisor to make sure the mathematics was correct and he states, ‘Genius is a thing that happens, not a kind of person’.  And the film shows Mary as an ordinary little girl who just happens to be brilliant at maths.Gifted

All the cast were believable from the overbearing mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) to the sweet and love interest, Bonnie (Jenny Slate) as Mary’s teacher.  But certainly, the stand-out was Chris Evans as Frank the uncle.  There is a beauty and depth in the man.  And it was such a pleasure to see him in a role, not as a superhero (think, Captain America), but as an ordinary man.  Well, still behaving like a hero.

I hate letting tears fall with a big lump in my throat in the cinema, but this one was worth it.

There’s so much more to life than money and achievement – there’s also the love between a young girl and a one-eyed ginger cat.

As director, Marc Webb (The Amazing Spiderman 2 (2014), (500) Days of Summer (2009)) described the script, the film’s simple, warm and uncynical.

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