This is a New York City film. Seemingly slicker, cooler, aloofer, and really witty, Xavier Manrique’s (first film) Chronically Metropolitan tries to replicate in 90 minutes all that being a New Yorker is about. It somewhat works though the film tends to be a little ponderous and slow for many to be willing to stick with it. Not much actually happens. Rather it tries to be “smart” and “verbal”.
Facing your past is not often an easy thing. This is especially so for young writer Fenton Dillane (Shiloh Fernandez – from television’s Gypsy), whose debut novel was a failure. Fenton, without letting anyone know, decides to return to his native New York City. The return is brought on by the car accident his father Christopher (Chris Noth – from television’s Sex in the City) gets into with a truck loaded with crabs. There he has the idea to confront his estranged family, childhood issues and ex-girlfriend, Jessie (Ashley Benson – from television’s Pretty Little Liars). He wants to make up with his family and win back Jessie.
Instead of the focus being on why he comes back he is embroiled in a scandal involving his father, lobsters and female students. On top of that, his mother Annabel (Mary-Louise Parker – from television’s Weeds) is buying drugs from his best friend John (Josh Peck – Ice Age: The Meltdown, Red Dawn – 2012) and Jessie is engaged to another man.
Lots of long uninterrupted shots in which nothing really happens other than muted conversations. To make you, as the watcher, feel like you are just watching from a distant corner of the room the shots are all done from quite a distance. Precious few close ups on the characters’ faces to feel their emotions. Kinda restricts things. Does not allow you to get involved with the folks you are spending your time watching.
Though it is a rather short film it feels longer. Maybe because of the pace or lack thereof. Maybe because at multiple points it all feels rather phony or forced. Though it tried to be cheeky and high browed at times it wandered into soap opera territory. Which would disgust any true well off New Yorker.
What it is successful in is the way New York City is shot. Cinematographer Scott Miller (Stingray Sam, Ordinary World) should be applauded for that. It is not easy to impress with shots of a city that has been seen so many times on screen.
-Chronically Interviewed: Behind the Scenes With the Stars of Chronically Metropolitan