Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Movie review: Manhattan Romance

While working on a documentary about modern relationships in Manhattan, Danny struggles to navigate his own relationships. A somewhat traditional guy, he works to have a relationship with Theresa; a hippy dancer who engages in open relationships, and acknowledge being in love with his best friend Carla, a lesbian.

Tom O'Brien (Danny), Katherine Waterston (Carla), Caitlin FitzGerald (Theresa), Zach Grenier (Trevor), Louis Cancelmi (Jarrod), Gaby Hoffmann (Emmy), Paul O'Brien (Uncle Bob), Ellen McLaughlin (Aunt Jules).

Manhattan Romance is quite simply a mess, both as a film and from the perspective of Danny, the main character (and Director of the film). The story sounds like Danny is going to explore alternative relationships but instead he seems to dismiss the possibilities and personal growth potential in favor of social conditioning and prejudice. To complicate matters further, he engages with women who are completely contradictory to his relationship paradigm to an extent they are realistically unattainable. The result is an unrealistic representation of alternative relationship styles but a clear picture of why Danny has relationship troubles.

Acting, despite film content, was decent. O'Brien could use some work but he was nicely supported by Waterston and FitzGerald who both delivered nicely and fit their roles well. Hoffmann was also enjoyable and fit her role, and the film, well. The remainder of the cast felt a bit green at times, but did fairly well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds felt a bit low-budget but fit the film pretty well. Some darker scenes were difficult but most of the video was pretty good. Dialogue was okay but could have done more, a lot more. A lot of things felt unexplained and the lack of communication between characters at times was beyond disappointing. Sound and soundtrack could have used some work with background music running over dialogue in a couple of scenes.

It was disappointing Manhattan Romance didn't take a deeper look at alternative relationships as implied by the summary, nor did it add anything to the genre, and the comedy aspect was almost entirely missing. Instead this seems to be a story about an average guy, with common relationship expectations, who goes looking in the alternative lifestyle community for a relationship and ends up frustrated.

With some sexuality, nudity, and foul language save this for the oldest teens and above.

Released: 2014
Reviewed: 1.25.16
Star rating: 1 out of 5
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Independent Films

copyright ©2016 Dave Riedel

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