A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.
Thomas Webb, the son of a publisher and his artistic wife, has just graduated from college and is trying to find his place in the world. Moving from his parents' Upper West Side apartment to the Lower East Side, he befriends his neighbor W.F., a shambling alcoholic writer who dispenses worldly wisdom alongside healthy shots of whiskey. Thomas' world begins to shift when he discovers that his long-married father is having an affair with a seductive younger woman. Determined to break up the relationship, Thomas ends up sleeping with his father's mistress, launching a chain of events that will change everything he thinks he knows about himself and his family. Written by
It has its hot moments, but it's not The Graduate.
"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me." Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in the adultery classic, The Graduate.
Adultery is a prickly business, so to speak. Consider the heft of Anna Karenina, the intensity of Fatal Attraction, and the lightness of A Summer Place. Closer to the last film is director Marc Webb's The Only Living Boy in New York, a tepid potboiler about a boy, Thomas (Collum Turner), bedding his dad, Ethan's (Pierce Brosnan), mistress, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale).
Although it sounds deliciously seamy, the film is really a slow burn of anxiety as the truth waits to step forward with as little character exposition as allowed these days and an ending Nicholas Sparks could have written on deadline. The initial conjunction of son and mistress has some credulity due to the neglectful way dad treats son, a revenge waiting to happen. However, the episodic nature of the trysts and cluelessness of dad and wronged mom are disappointing.
Nothing can beat the ending, a Hollywood contrivance I railed against with The Glass Castle the other day. I suspect it pleases a trial audience but not a discerning one that wants organic exposition, not just clichéd stuff you can see all the way down Fifth Avenue.
Yes, they are rich, and the boy is spoiled but congenial. In some respects The Graduate could have been an inspiration, with its compromise of a young man by a cougar in a leopard bra. Barely a bra here and not the intriguing, ironic bed talk supplied by Charles Webb and smoothly offered by Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.
Marc Webb director? Thomas Webb character in this film? Charles Webb author of The Graduate? Wish there were more magic in the web of that. Coincidental but no help with the turgid romances of The Only Living Boy in New York.
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