Everything about the ad campaign and the preview trailers for The Only Living Boy In New York seems to be selling it as a sort of Millennial version of The Graduate — a young man at loose ends, on the threshold of his life, enters into a messy relationship with a seductive older woman connected to the family through his father. (In this case, his father's mistress.)
The song that gives the movie its title, vintage Simon and Garfunkel, also references the ambience of the classic Mike Nichols movie. But it turns out there's a perfectly valid reason for using this song, beyond a random attempt to identify this movie with its famous predecessor.
This smart, engaging film, written by Allan Loeb and skillfully directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), tells its own story, from a completely fresh perspective. The story intrigues, and there's a lot of satisfaction in the way everything eventually falls into place.
Best of all is a big, plummy role for Jeff Bridges, as sort of an irascible old Yoda, mentoring the young hero, Thomas (played by Callum Turner with a wry, slightly gauche appeal), in the school of life.
|Turner and Bridges: Full-on Yoda mode|
Bridges' voice narrates much of this story. It's a little jarring at first, that this character, observing the action from the outside, presumes to tell us what Thomas and other characters are thinking and feeling. But there's a turning point later on when it all suddenly makes sense.
Pierce Brosnan is Thomas' abrupt, imperious father, a big cheese at a NYC publishing house, with Cynthia Nixon is his "fragile" wife.
Kate Beckinsale is the glamorous mistress. And vivacious Kiersey Clemons plays the girl of Thomas' dreams — until things take an unexpected turn.
You may guess part of the mysterious history linking these characters before all is revealed, but that shouldn't interfere with the pleasure of watching it play out. And the percolating rhythms of city life provide an expressive counterpoint to this appealing tale.
(Read more in this week's Good Times.)