film re­view

NOW Magazine - - MOVIES -

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.

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