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Review The Only Living Boy In New York

Review The Only Living Boy In New York
08.11.2017
6 10

PLOT: A young man drifting through polite society in New York discovers his father is having an affair. Things get complicated when he decides that he must confront the woman in question, and he himself begins to fall for her after their first encounter.

REVIEW: THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK didn’t connect with me for the first half of the film. While the performances were terrific and I loved the way they captured New York, the entire affair felt a bit on the pretentious side. You know the kind, rich people who seem to have way too many non-issue "issues" with relationships. Even the lead character isn’t the most charismatic young man, at times he’s a bit of an entitled jerk. Yet, as the film progressed, this story slowly grew on me. By the final half hour or so I suddenly realized I actually cared a bit. Ultimately I was invested in this boy's story. And to be fair, the occasional Simon and Garfunkel track certainly helped with the journey - including of course “The Only Living Boy In New York.”

Callum Turner is Thomas Webb, a young man trying to figure out where he fits in the world. He has a friend named Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) with whom he wants to pursue a relationship. And his mother (Cynthia Nixon) is just as lost in the world as her son, partially because her husband (Pierce Brosnan) is secretly involved with another woman. Thomas discovers his fathers infidelity and decides to follow the mistress, a beautiful woman named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Eventually, he ends up involved with her as well. All the while, Thomas makes a new friend, a mysterious man named W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges), who helps lead him through these troubled times, you could say like a bridge over troubled water perhaps?

After his experience in the world of SPIDER-MAN, I’m happy to see Marc Webb return to films like this and the recent GIFTED. However, this particular tale isn’t always a welcome one. In fact, one of the reasons I liked the film was also the same one that made it so damn difficult to embrace. The characters here aren’t always very appealing, and they tend to make a few unconventional choices. In fact, the entire plot is a bit atypical as the story of a man having an affair with his father’s mistress isn’t an easy one. Nor is it something we see regularly in the cinema. Aside from Jeremy Irons in DAMAGE and perhaps a few others, it is an unusual subject matter.

As the boy in question, Callum Turner gives a solid performance. However, it is impossible to fully relate to Thomas. This character can be selfish, hurtful and frustratingly cold. And considering the entire film is about him and the people that surround him, that can make for a challenge. Much of the appeal, at least from my perspective, were the side characters. Beckinsale’s alluring Johanna may be flawed, but she is quite captivating. Nixon, as his mother, is probably the only truly sympathetic one here, and she never seems to see herself as the victim. And finally, both Bridges and Brosnan are quite good, with Bridges as this compassionate neighbor who befriends Thomas that gives the film a little light.

The biggest surprise for me was the lovely Keirsey Clemons who plays the complicated role of friend bordering on girlfriend to Thomas. The actress brings a level of energy and fire to Mimi. And the relationship between the two of them feels quite honest - two people looking for love making it far more complex than it needs to be. Frankly, most of the flaws I had with this flick involved Thomas. For most, this may be a deal-breaker. If you don’t like the lead character, especially one as smug as Thomas, it’s asking a lot to invest in him. However, one moment changed that a bit for me. It was profound enough that I was able to deal with what had come before. This is one of those rare times where the final act somehow makes it work. Some audiences may not be so forgiving, and frankly I would understand that.

In many ways, THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK reminds me of the old Seventies comedic dramas. The characters involved were often rich and entitled or flawed and conflicted. This can be a more satisfying viewing experience coming from somebody who loves watching classic Albert Brooks comedies. Ultimately I appreciated Webb’s telling of this New York City boy learning about life and love. Did I like the boy? Not really. However, the people around him were fascinating - albeit just as messed up as Thomas is - and they add a little bit of color and soul. And yes, there is a point where you see hope for Thomas to finally grow - I won’t give away why. This may not resonate with all audiences, but in the end, the connection was made.

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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