NEW ROMANTIC, THE

THE NEW ROMANTIC

(director/writer: Carly Stone; screenwriter: story by Kyle Mann; cinematographer: Mike McLaughlin; editor: Christine Armtrong; music:Matthew O’Halloran; cast: Jessica Barden (Blake), Hayley Law (Nikki), Timm Sharp (Ian), Brett Dier (Jacob), Avan Jogia (Matt), Camila Mendes (Morgan Cruise); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kyle Mann, Jason Ross Jallet, Jonathan Bronfman, Michael Risley; The Orchard; 2018-Canada)

 

This Canadian Nora Ephron-like rom-com aspires to explore the meaning of love but misses the target because it’s not on point about carrying through on its cynicism.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This Canadian Nora Ephron-like rom-com aspires to explore the meaning of love but misses the target because it’s not on point about carrying through on its cynicism. It’s the uneven but sassy debut feature by writer-director Carly Stone, who searches more for laughs and audience approval than for insights into relationships. She bases it on the novel by Kyle Mann, and also pays homage to the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Blake Conway (Jessica Barden – known for her role in Netflix’s dark comedy The End of the F*cking World ) is an insecure college senior at a sleepy Canadian college and an aspiring journalist who writes an anonymous romance column for the school’s paper in the hopes of winning the prize of $50,000 for the Hunter S. Thompson gonzo journalism award. The sexually frustrated writer declares “Romance is dead,” and the concerned editor (Avan Jogia) worries she has nothing useful to say about sex since she doesn’t have any and cancels her column until she has something to say. Her lively roommate (Hayley Law) supports her push to get her column back anyway she can. Blake gets a new angle on romance after running into her sexy classmate Morgan (Camila Mendes), a confident opinionated young woman. She makes Blake take notice of the sugar baby lifestyle as a way to pay off her college debts and get material for a sex column. Thereby Blake is given another chance to write a column by the editor if she writes about banging someone for money. So she enters into an awkward “arrangement” with a much older wealthy professor (Timm Sharp), even if she finds it troubling there’s no intimacy involved. But, at least, she now has a story to tell. The fantasy film is ultimately not about the amoral sugar daddy affair, but how a vulnerable coed with hopes of finding a storybook romance and becoming a celebrated gonzo journalist can get her act together. The situations are all convincing and the acting is fine (if you dig lots of facial expressions from the lead), but the high energy from the plot dissipates with the flat conclusion-which sucks the air out of the room by showing the filmmaker relates favorably to the same banal notions about love as does the heroine (Oh my gosh!).

Jessica Barden in The New Romantic (2018)

REVIEWED ON 11/1/2018 GRADE: B-      https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/