(director/writer: Olmo Schnabel; screenwriters: Gaylen Gore, Jack Irv, based on a story by Jack Irv; cinematographer: Hunter Zimny; editor: Sophie Corra; music: Eli Keszler; cast: Jack Irv (Jack), Dario Yazbek (Alejandro), Willem Dafoe (Francis), Emmanuelle Seigner (Diana), Camille Rowe (Andy), Grace Brennan (Lucy), Louis Cancelmi (Walker),Tal Chatterjee (Sammie), Maribel Verdu (Karla), Jordi Molla (Castro), Peter Sarsgaard; Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Galen Core, Olmo Schnabel, Alex Coco, Francesco Melzi d’Eril, Gabriele Moratti, Marie Savare De Laitre; Ela Films/MeMo Films; 2023-UK/USA/Italy/Mexico)

“Shoots itself in the foot with such an unappealing story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Olmo Schnabel, the son of the artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, makes his feature film debut a tedious affair. It’s a NYC bohemian story, set on its Upper East Side, that tells a sad and unconvincing queer romantic story about two obnoxious misguided twentysomethings, that’s based on the story by Jack Irv and is co-written by Irv, Gaylen Gore and Olmo.

Alejandro (Dario Yazbek Bernal) is a spoiled twentysomething who has become attached to his mother Karla (Maribel Verdú) and distant from his oppressive Mexican crime lord father Castro (Jordi Molla). There’s a failed suicide attempt and then an incident of vehicular manslaughter (he accidentally ran over his mom), that encourages Alejandro to escape from being jailed in Mexico by fleeing to NYC. There he meets the 20-year-old aimless Jack (Jack Irv), who lives with his quarreling wealthy parents Francis (Willem Dafoe) and Diana (Emmanuelle Seigner), who spoiled him. The listless Jack works at an unsatisfying menial job in a Bronx pet shop.

In NYC Jack comes under the influence of Alejandro, who does drugs and has his life spiral out of control. Castro’s henchman Walker (Louise Cancelmi) arrives in NYC to bring the kid back to Mexico to clear up his criminal charges, instead Alejandro romantically seduces Jack and seduces Jack to burglarize with him a wealthy housewife.

It’s a disappointing drama that never becomes a compelling character study about the two lost souls with ” daddy issues,” who have chosen to be on a bad trajectory despite their supposed privileged lives. And since they are both unlikable, their story elicits no sympathy. It’s a wannabe underground indie film from 1970s (think Andy Warhol) that tries to stir things up but shoots itself in the foot with such an unappealing story.

It played at the Venice International Film Festival.
REVIEWED ON 11/25/2023  GRADE: C