Published On: Thu, Aug 24th, 2017

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’: Callum Turner shines in dialogue driven intellectual drama

How often do you experience a film where the most impressive element is the dialogue?

Think really hard about it. I couldn’t think of any at all.

Maybe I’m not as intellectual as I imagine myself to be, but The Only Living Boy in New York, written by Allen Loeb, definitely has the most intriguing dialogue I can recall. Adding Jeff Bridges’ deep, raspy voice to the dialogue just takes it to an intriguingly different level. Why so much about the dialogue? I realized as I walked out that it was almost an independent character in the story. Had Loeb used fewer SAT words and picturesque word combinations, the movie would have just been a made-for-TV film with a pricey cast.

The story is relatively simple with a twist at the end, but I easily figured out the surprise before it was completely revealed. Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is a young man in his early 20’s who is floundering around in life without any direction. His only goal is to get the girl he loves, Mimi, to love him as well and not become like his parents, a wealthy, judgmental publisher (Pierce Brosnan) and an artistic wife (Cynthia Nixon) who is battling mental health issues. In the midst of his despair, Thomas meets his new neighbor, W.F.(Bridges), who tells him that he’s only recognizing the boring and tragic side of his life and not seeing the balancing exciting and intriguing side of it.

As their relationship evolves with frequent open discussions about the reluctant Mimi (Kiersey Clemons), Thomas inadvertently discovers that his father is having an affair with a beautiful younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Thinking of his mother’s fragile state, Thomas sets out to break up the adulterous relationship but ends up seducing his father’s mistress along the way. From this point, the story takes a few twists that ultimately reveal family secrets and those relationships which originally appeared to be so simple have all their hidden complexities exposed.

Ultimately, there’s a relatively-happy ending. Everything falls in place as expected as the characters survive and overcome the drama of the situation. And the audience? Well, the audience walks out feeling a bit unsure of how to feel about any of it. At it’s core, this is just a life story. Life isn’t always what we expected, but we keep on living and allow each experience to shape and slightly mold us a bit more. That said, this film probably will not appeal to younger audiences at all who still look at life as strictly black or white without the shades of gray that appear over time.

They will probably have more dramatic responses to the production. For the rest of us, it won’t seem quite so shocking. It’s just a story about life and the surprises it may have for us as we strive to find our “happily ever after.”

The Only Living Boy in New York earns 3 out of 5 stars

Author: Debbie Sage


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