Adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress.
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Allan Loeb
Stars: Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Nixon, Kiersey Clemons, Tate Donovan, Wallace Shawn
Review by Gilbert Seah
It has been 5 years since the announcement of the making of this movie and its completion after many delays and re-casting. Surprisingly, THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK turns out not that bad, but it is a far cry from the director’s first and excellent debut, THE (500) DAYS OF SUMMER.
The lead young actor, Callum Turner of THE ONLY LIVING BIY IN NEW YORK appears to be a clone of Joseph-Gordon Levitt in SUMMER, not only in looks but in certain mannerisms. Turner is not bad, charming, while portraying both the strength of a budding writer and a vulnerable player in the artistic world. The casting director seems unable to resist the casting of Wallace Shawn as a talking artist in one of the family’s famous artist dinner parties.
The script by Allan Loeb feels at times like a Woody Allen one, with multiple relationships going on at one time. No one appears capable of keeping a monogamous less honest relationship without sleeping with another and then substantiating it as all right afterwards. Unlike an Allen film, the guilt comes more into play in this story with each lover trying to right a wrong.
When the film begins, a recent college graduate, Thomas Webb (Turner) is given the news that the girl whom he has been seeing and has fallen in love with, Mimi Pastori (Kiersey Clemons) is leaving him to go abroad. They still love each other as they profess, which really means nothing in a film that tries to be as smug as this one, from the very beginning. Thomas ends up sleeping with his dad, Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan) mistress, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), while the poor mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon) looks on. It turns out that mother is not that innocent after all, as will be revealed later on in the story (no spoiler to be revealed here.) In the process of all this, Thomas meets, though too coincidentally, a neighbour stranger named W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges) who turns out to be his mentor helping him out both in his love affairs and life.
THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK is a likeable film and director Webb (who also did the SPIDER-MAN movies) knows how to make a likeable film. Love triumphs in many ways and always does. Everyone in the script also ends up with his or her own little happy ending.
THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK, which turns out to be the title of the book a character writes, will be inevitably compared to a Woody Allen movie for its look on the New York art scene and relationships.
This is the difference between Loeb’s script, Webb’s direction and Woody Allen’s works. Life does not always turn out to be happy endings. Allen’s characters suffer more, for their cheating in their love affairs and in general in how things in life eventually turn out. Life is not all plain sailing that turn out well. That is the reason Allen’s films are more endearing and realistic. And Allen knows how to put in more humour and sarcasm into his works as well. This film ends up a too smug arty fairy tale.
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