The Only Living Boy In New York Review – Unexpected, Surprising, A Solid Bet

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The Only Living Boy In New York, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, presents a story of life, love, hope and New York, with a quintet of characters molded from everything New York was, is and lost along the way.

Directed by Marc Webb, The Only Living Boy in New York stars Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kate Beckinsale, Cynthia Nixon, Callum Turner and Kiersey Clemons and was written by Allan Loeb.

The film opens to caricatures of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, where once a mecca for artists, actors, and thinkers, now has undergone a gentrification of sorts, with Wall Street types taking over the Brownstones and injecting the neighborhood with a gloss that seems more like plastic than shine.

As the film narrows from the streetscapes to one of the many museum’s we meet Thomas Webb, played by Callum Turner, and Mimi Pastori, played by Kiersey Clemons, both recent graduates, each contemplating the next step in their lives. For Mimi, she has her hopes set on a prestigious and exclusive creative program in Crotia and Thomas has his heart set of her.


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As the two leave the museum, what was sure suddenly seems cloudy and the future empty. Off to one of his parents famous dinner parties, we meet Judith Webb, played by Cynthia Nixon and Ethan Webb, played by Pierce Brosnan, Thomas’ parents and dinner guests played by Wallace Shaw, Anh Duong, Debi Mazar, Tate Donovan all discussing the lost charm of the Upper West Side.

Well respected, the Webb’s seem to have it all. Ethan’s powerhouse publishing company, Judith manages home, family and to the world they are envied. The truth, of course, is darker. Judith, once an artist, has let life dictate her passions, and art is buried, replaced with the usual poor health habits that placate ladies who lunch.

Thomas deeply care for his mother and is of course always at odds with his father. Thomas is a writer, his father a publisher, nepotism rules one would think. Not in this case, as Ethan is clear to him Thomas’ writing is serviceable.

Thomas returns to his apartment in the East Village, one of the older pre-war walk-ups where Thomas Webb, has decided to live among the bohemians. Sitting on the steps of the walk-up is a mess of a man, an East Village eccentric, exactly what Thomas thinks he’s looking for as he searches for meaning and inspiration for his work.

The man, W.F. Gerald, played by Jeff Bridges, a scotch drinking, pot smoking, well spring of life advice becomes a confident, mentor, friend, someone who becomes special, a bridge between the adolescent fantasies of youth and life with all its complications.

With Thomas trying to convince Mimi to ditch Crotia and her band playing boyfriend, the two take in a live jazz band. Sitting in the balcony, the two are crowd watching when a beautiful woman, played by Kate Beckinsale, enters, with Ethan. Obviously together, Thomas watches his father and this mysterious woman affectionally whisper oblivious to the world or their surroundings the two give the look of a romantic history.


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As youth takes over, Thomas decides he will confront this harlot who has the nerve to wedge herself between his parents very happy life. Sure, yea, there are problems, and that happens, but you, he plans to say, are not walking away with the prize.

What follows is so far south of typical that even in the scope of definition of shocking, it wouldn’t be strong enough.

The Only Living Boy in New York is not the typical New York movie as I thought, a transplanted New Yorker, I remained jaded and sure that I knew where this film was going from the beginning. So, I was wrong.

Yes, it does have the handsome power couple, a publishing magnet, his disillusioned wife (well-kept and ills quiet) their rebellious son and the requisite mistress. Life, however, imitating art ends at that point as The Only Living Boy in New York travels in an entirely different direction.

With that said, I really enjoyed this film. The performances are genuine and believable and the chemistry obviously jumps from the screen. In fact the film is captivating from the opening credits.

Marc Webb, the director, which I had the opportunity to interview during the recent press day, took the decade old script and after the studio thought it had successfully polished it, somewhat life Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the new changes aren’t necessarily the best, and he took the script and went back to the original pitched it in its original form. Raw, gritty, Manhattan with two worlds, two neighborhoods, past lives, forged futures and new beginnings.

The Only living boy in New York is a solid bet at the box office. Jeff Bridges and Pierce Brosnan hold the attention on both sides of the spectrum and are both iconic and as Marc Webb said during our interview, “I had to have Jeff play W.F., the whole thing hinged on that.”

The Only Living Boy In New York has unexpected layers of life, a depth, either by skill or desperation, as the screen writer, Allan Loeb, had decided this was it, and just went for it and it shows. Life, as we see, is rarely black or white and is full of mystery, intrigue, chance, happenstance, destiny, and of course, New York City as the backdrop.

This quintet of players, solid award winning, iconic fill the screen always, as the camera pans the lives of our characters, with hopes, regrets, memories, secrets and surprises.

The Only Living Boy In New York opens August 11, 2017 is selected theaters.  See it.

 

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