FRIDAY 23 NOVEMBER
Doors: 7.30pm Film: 8pm
The Boy Downstairs (12A)
Diana is a writer returning to New York after two years in London.
Through a friend, she finds the perfect apartment on the second floor of a Brownstone. She thinks that she's struck the jackpot - but then she sees her downstairs neighbour. It's Ben - her ex-boyfriend who broke her heart years earlier. Having inadvertently moved into his building,
Diana is forced to reflect on her past relationship and revisit long-buried feelings.
A really droll and witty New York comedy.
Starring Zosia Mamet as Diana, a shopgirl and aspiring author, this feature debut by writer-director Sophie Brooks will no doubt be compared to Lena Dunham’s TV series Girls (in which Mamet also featured). In fact, it has more in common with the films of Nicole Holofcener, whose Walking and Talking seems like a reference point.
Having moved back to New York after three years in London, Diana lands an unrealistically dreamy sublet in a tasteful Brooklyn brownstone, only to find that her ex-boyfriend, Ben (Noah Baumbach regular Matthew Shear), is – as the film’s title warns – the boy who lives downstairs. Cutting between flashbacks of their relationship as it buds, blossoms and eventually wilts, and their present-day awkwardness, it offers a valuable insight into how young women can be just as bumbling, emotionally inept and ambivalent about commitment as men.
There is plenty of wit too in the well-observed supporting characters, such as best friend Gabby’s on-off man interest, who asks as a cringey litmus test if she likes Radiohead, though Diana herself isn’t especially well drawn. We never really get a sense of her as a writer outside of elaborate montages that see her hunched over a MacBook, but Mamet is as honest, vulnerable and exacting as she can be in her scenes with Shear. What’s most intriguing is Brooks doesn’t use the romcom format to conduct abrasive social satire, as seems to be the trend within its indie sub-genre. Instead she’s earnestly aiming for (and squarely hitting) something more unapologetically sweet-natured.
Director: Sophie Brooks
Writer: Sophie Brooks
Starring: Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Deirdre O'Connell
Running Time: 91 mins
Mark Kermode Review