A long time ago, I said I would just wait for films to come out locally rather than head to NYC to see them. I so badly wished I did that for The Only Living Boy in New York.
It all begins with Mimi (Kiersey Clemons[note]The main reason I decided to not wait a few weeks to see if this film would come to Jersey. If not wait for it to come on Amazon Prime a few months down the line[/note]) rejecting Thomas (Callum Turner). He thinks she is perfect for him but she isn’t into him like that. This rejection messes him up to the point that when a nosy neighbor, Julien (Jeff Bridges), offers unsolicited advice and an ear, Thomas ends up taking it.
However, while romantically rejected, Mimi still likes Thomas as a friend. So when he learns his father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan) is cheating on his mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon), she helps him stalk her. That is until he decides to confront the mistress. This confrontation strangely leads Thomas to go from trying to convince Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), the mistress, to stop seeing his father to Thomas sleeping with Johanna.
From there, we witness this weird love triangle between Ethan, Johanna, and Thomas that neither Mimi nor Judith know about. All of which ends with an interesting reveal dealing with the true reason why Judith is so miserable. Much less why Johanna tries to make it clear that Judith would not be heartbroken over Ethan cheating on her.
The Twist Toward The End of the Movie
As you can imagine, some random old man like Julien just popping into a kid like Thomas’ life is both weird and normal. Weird since, even in New York, I would think stranger danger would be a serious thing. Especially since Julien presents himself as a weird alcoholic. Yet, being that this film is a coming of age tale, who ever heard of one of those without an eccentric old man involved?
However, as we get to know Julien, also referenced as W.F. Gerald, and learn his true connection to Thomas’ life, it brings new meaning to their relationship. Much less, it presents the type of storyline you wish was the sale here. That is, rather than a son and father sharing the same woman and them both falling for her.
The Inclusion of Johanna
In the grand scheme of things, if you subtract Johanna and just focus on Ethan and Judith’s unhappy marriage, Thomas dealing with Mimi’s rejection, and how Julien plays into all that, you get a decent movie. However, with the inclusion of Johanna, you get this ridiculous tale in which Johanna seemingly seduces Thomas as he is trying to get this woman to leave his dad alone. Yet, something about her charms him to the point of not only kissing her but repeatedly having sex with her, and even falling for her. All the while, she barely lets the boy, or the audience, get to know her and she continues sleeping with his father and going on dates with him.
Something which may sound interesting and twisted but believe me it isn’t executed in such a way. You’ll just be left scratching your head trying to figure out how this boy went from advocating for his mom, and her marriage, to falling for his father’s mistress.
While I will admit I can be verbose, this movie takes the cake. Between Julien, Thomas, and the rest of bourgeois characters, it seems the movie is more about hearing people talk about themselves or others than having real conversations. A problem which does get fixed with Julien’s reveal, but that doesn’t come until there are about 30 or so minutes left in the movie. Meaning, for an hour, between Johanna’s nonsense and word porn, you are sitting in a theater tempted to check a device for how much time is left.
On The Fence
The Relationship Between Mimi and Thomas
I don’t know why but something about Kiersey Clemons just doesn’t read basic love interest. She is attractive and you can imagine her being someone’s girlfriend or wife in a movie, but her playing the object of someone’s affection seems off. Which makes me glad there is a strong push by Mimi for them, her and Thomas, to just be friends.
Mostly because Clemons makes it seem that there is no romantic or sexual chemistry there. Helping you to understand that while there might have been a one-night stand, that was because Mimi was on Molly and thought she was a pirate. It wasn’t because, in her most sober of minds, she decided Thomas was worth putting on her vagenda [note]A term by Amanda Seales meaning her vagina agenda.[/note].
Which sort of brings into play a question of her giving consent and all that, but this film doesn’t make too big of a deal out of it so I won’t either. The point is, while Thomas and Mimi work well together as friends, Clemons drives it home that these two would not make a cute couple. Even if Thomas usually presents himself as a good guy.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
This film likely isn’t ever going to open wide so you’ll have to go the distance to see this. Because of that, let me be clear the extra you’ll have to pay isn’t worth it. The Only Living Boy in New York is an indie film catered to New Yorkers. The kind who, perhaps, are the which hipsters and bourgeois who speak on their nostalgia for what New York used to be while aiding the system to make it what they currently enjoy. Add on it the lack of real conversations and chemistry between most characters, alongside the waste of money by writing Johanna/ Kate Beckinsale into this movie, and you’ll understand why it is rated low wherever you go and negative here.