WCBE

The Only Living Boy in New York

Aug 25, 2017

It has its hot moments, but it's not The Graduate.

The Only Living Boy in New York

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: C+

Director: Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer, Gifted)

Screenplay: Allan Loeb (Collateral Beauty)

Cast: Collum Turner (Green Room), Jeff Bridges (Hell or high Water)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 28 min

by John DeSando

“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) in the adultery classic, The Graduate.

Adultery is a prickly business, so to speak. Consider the heft of Anna Karenina, the intensity of Fatal Attraction, and the lightness of A Summer Place. Closer  to the last film  is director Marc Webb’s The Only Living Boy in New York, a tepid potboiler about a boy, Thomas (Collum Turner), bedding his dad, Ethan’s (Pierce Brosnan), mistress, Johanna (Kate Beckinsale).

Although it sounds deliciously seamy, the film is really a slow burn of anxiety as the truth waits to step forward with as little character exposition as allowed these days and an ending Nicholas Sparks could have written on deadline. The initial conjunction of son and mistress has some credulity due to the neglectful way dad treats son, a revenge waiting to happen. However, the episodic nature of the trysts and cluelessness of dad and wronged mom are disappointing.

Nothing can beat the ending, a Hollywood contrivance I railed against with The Glass Castle the other day.  I suspect it pleases a trial audience but not a discerning one that wants organic exposition, not just clichéd stuff you can see all the way down Fifth Avenue.

Yes, they are rich, and the boy is spoiled but congenial. In some respects The Graduate could have been an inspiration, with its compromise of a young man by a cougar in a leopard bra. Barely a bra here and not the intriguing, ironic bed talk supplied by Charles Webb and smoothly offered by Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.

Marc Webb director? Thomas Webb character ? and Charles Webb author of The Graduate? Wish there were more magic in the web of that. Coincidental but no help with the turgid romances of The Only Living Boy in New York.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com