Title: The Only Living Boy in New York

Director: Marc Webb (‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ series, ‘500 Days of Summer’)

Starring Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Kiersey Clemons and Jeff Bridges

The Only Living Boy in New York Movie Review
(L-R): Kiersey Clemons and Callum Turner in ‘The Only Living Boy in New York.’
Photo credit: Niko Tavernise
Courtesy of Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions

When people don’t listen to well-meaning advice, and instead make precarious decisions that don’t remain true to their natural personality, their risky actions can often times comprise their integrity. It’s not until they start to see the consequences of their at-times ill-advised journey that they can finally recognize the errors in their ways, and once again embrace their naturally instinctive attitude.

The new indie coming-of-age drama, ‘The Only Living Boy in New York,’ perfectly features director Marc Webb returning back to the genre that initially proved his talent as a filmmaker. The movie, which is set to be distributed into select theaters on Friday by Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, effortlessly highlights the fact that while the way people connect to each other is one of the most meaningful parts of life, it’s also one of the biggest struggles. People’s most complex and genuine relationships force them to reconsider what they’re doing with their lives, as their friends, families and colleagues can often see something in them that they didn’t realize themselves.

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ follows Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), a recent college graduate who has shunned his privileged upbringing. As the only son of a publisher, Ethan (Pierce Brosnan), and his artistic wife, Judith (Cynthia Nixon), Thomas is determined to find his place in the world. So he moves across Manhattan from his parents’ Upper West Side apartment to the Lower East Side, much to his father’s objection.

While the title protagonist is determined to step out from behind his parents’ shadow and influence, Thomas begins to question his self worth even more when he begins to pine for Mimi (Kiersey Clemons). After a brief intimate encounter, the New York University student confesses that she doesn’t have romantic feelings Thomas, and only views him as a friend.

In order to feel better about his relationships and overall place in the world, Thomas seeks advice from his new neighbor W.F. (Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic writer who freely shares worldly wisdom. While W.F.’s advice makes Thomas feel somewhat better, his entire world is thrown into chaos again when he discovers that his father is having an affair with a younger woman, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), who turns out to be freelance editor who regularly works with Ethan.

Thomas is initially determined to break up the extramarital relationship, in order to shelter his seemingly depressed mother from further grief and heartache. As the somewhat naive Thomas begins to realize that his connections with his parents, as well as with Mimi, aren’t as straightforward and easy as he has always wanted to so desperately believe, he launches a chain of events that will change everything he thinks he knows about himself and his family and friends.

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ is an emotionally relatable and clever chronicle of what it means for young adults to find their own way, and contend with the pressures of possibly not meeting their parents’ expectations in the process. The witty coming-of-age story effortlessly follows the title protagonist’s determination to remain true to his beliefs, while also considering the happiness of the people he cares about the most. Thomas is a complex character who initially seems as though he knows what he wants in his personal relationships and career choices-he hopes to persuade Mimi to view him as potential boyfriend material, and pursue a life as a writer, despite his father’s objections to his job selection.

But as he learns more about Ethan’s long-running affair with Johanna, Thomas is ultimately left questioning his entire existence, and whether the people in his life truly value him. With the believable delivery that Bridges gives as the wise and more experienced writer, who enthrallingly exudes confidence while offering his new neighbor advice, Thomas is able to realize that forcing a connection that isn’t real isn’t the best option for anyone. The young protagonist also accepts the fact that he shouldn’t place all of his professional self-worth in the hands of his father, who is too afraid to admit his real feelings to his wife, or in the women he lusts after, despite their inability to completely return the sentiment. Turner offers a stunning and memorable performance as the conflicted Thomas, who only seems to find true contentment after he shares his true feelings with his family and friends, and expects the same honesty from them.

The captivating character-driven drama perfectly reflects the challenges that many young adults face today, no matter what their financial and family backgrounds are like. Thomas is the epitome of a recent college student who wants to find his own way in the world, but still also needs the support of the people in his life. Aided by a career-making performance by the alluring Turner in the title role, ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ offers a riveting look into the heartfelt journey that many young adults take as they struggle to remain true to their beliefs, while also considering what consequences their actions will have on not only themselves, but also the people they care about the most.

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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