THE NEW ROMANTIC (Carly Stone) stars The End Of The F***ing World’s Jessica Barden as Blake, a budding student journalist at a small Canadian university who wants her life to be a Nora Ephron movie – until she lands a side gig providing the girlfriend experience to a wealthy professor (Timm Sharp). The first feature from Kim’s Convenience writer Stone mixes prickly comedy with incisive character moments, fully aware of the disconnect between Blake’s impossible expectations and the lives of everyone else around her. (I was reminded of Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, and its patience for its flawed hero as she made the mistakes that would lead to her becoming a better person.) Barden’s perfect for this role, using her youthful look and sharp delivery to show us Blake’s irritation at people constantly underestimating her while still hinting at the self-absorption she needs to overcome. Stone surrounds her with rising stars (Riverdale’s Hayley Law and Camilla Mendes, Paper Year’s Avan Jogia, Jane The Virgin’s Brett Dier) who all bring an intriguing energy to their scenes; Sharp’s a little more of a dud, but I think that’s intentional. The ending doesn’t quite satisfy – the air goes out of the plot in the last 10 minutes – but maybe that’s intentional, too. 83 min. NNN (Norman Wilner)
Jessica Barden shines in The New Romantic. See interview with director Carly Stone at nowtoronto.com/movies.