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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Difficult life situations provide writers with great material. "Should" is a dangerous word. "The only way out is through."
Positive Role Models
Thomas has talent but has been discouraged from pursuing writing by his publisher father, who had wanted to be a writer himself but wasn't talented enough. Resentful and distanced from his disapproving dad, Thomas has a secret affair with his father's mistress. Thomas' parents have a troubled marriage.
Violence & Scariness
Although his first instinct is to violently lash out after his son wrongs him, a man contains his fury out of love. A woman recalls that her father committed suicide when she was young.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Friends recall a one-night stand they had at a time when the girl was dating another man. Kissing. A young man has sex with his father's mistress; no nudity. They're shown lying together in bed afterward. A woman pretends to be a prominent man's date in order to help him hide his sexuality.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink and smoke cigars, cigarettes, and marijuana. Quaalude use is mentioned. A character is described as an alcoholic.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Only Living Boy in New York centers on a privileged 20-something young man (Callum Turner) stepping through to maturity -- although the way he does so involves some iffy judgment. He stalks and then sleeps with his father's mistress. But he also follows his own dreams (writing), despite the fact that his father disapproves. Sexual situations, infidelity, the meaning and responsibilities of parenthood, drinking, and smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana) all play roles as the titular boy struggles to move into manhood. Language is also strong; expect to hear both "f--k" and "s--t." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This drama is nicely written, but it's far from original. For one thing, the introduction of a mysterious character lamely foreshadows that character's importance. On the plus side, The Only Living Boy in New York deeply echoes the overall feel of Crossing Delancey, in which an aspiring young woman steeped in the literary world of New York bookstores and publishing also makes iffy choices in her complicated love life. And Mike Nichols' revered The Graduate reverberates in Thomas' aimlessness and his affair with an older woman. The Simon and Garfunkel theme song also nods at that earlier (and better) film. But unlike The Graduate, which at least suggested that its society's obsession with success and materialism was part of a larger social crisis, The Only Living Boy in New York dwells not on Thomas' advantages but on his petty concerns. There's no acknowledgment that the New York City allegedly lacking "soul" today probably does so mostly because it's only publishing house owners and successful novelists who can afford to live there. This obliviousness makes the story a little difficult to take seriously.
Obliviousness aside, the movie is a kind of love poem to a certain sector of privileged (or striving-to-be-privileged) New York artists of the sort who used to be mocked in old Woody Allen movies. Characters quote Ezra Pound and do their best to sound both pithy and world weary at dinner parties. Marc Webb, who directed The Amazing Spider-Man but who also does projects with more emotional heft, including the recent Gifted, grounds this film in a reality that it might otherwise be missing had it been based on the script alone. He gives non-problem problems a coat of gravity and coaxes Brosnan and Bridges out of their usual shtick (glib and sagely shambling, respectively). But the revelation here is Turner, an English actor whose American accent is flawless and whose ability to listen and to telegraph subtle emotions on camera makes him a pleasure to watch. The guy is lit from within.
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