Dating & New York

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Dating & New York
dir-scr Jonah Feingold
prd Jonah Feingold, Joaquin Acrich
with Francesca Reale, Jaboukie Young-White, Catherine Cohen, Brian Muller, Jerry Ferrara, Taylor Hill, Arturo Castro, Alex Moffat, Eva Victor, Sohina Sidhu, Sondra James, Yedoye Travis
release US 10.Sep.21
21/US 1h31

ferrara castro moffat

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young-white and reale
A bright and cheerful romantic comedy about millennials, this film provides loose-limbed appeal in its lively, witty characters. Writer-director Jonah Feingold has fun undermining genre expectations while reframing dating issues for a new generation. It's all rather adorable and goofy, and where it's headed is never in doubt, but it's also engaging and entertaining all the way through, with some moments that are smart and very funny.
Matched by an algorithm on the dating app Meet Cute, Wendy (Reale) and Milo (Young-White) have their first date and share a romantic night together. After a few weeks of silence, they're reconnected by the app as well as a fluke meeting between Wendy's best friend Jessie (Cohen) and Milo's best friend Hank (Muller), who have their own spark. Determined to only be friends with benefits, Wendy and Milo sign a contract to make sure their hearts don't get broken, which Jessie and Hank see as a recipe for disaster. Because someone always catches feelings.
An old fashioned romantic title sequence sets the smiley tone, while the sassy script plays with the idea that a real person can never live up to a social media fantasy. And the danger of lying on a profile is amusingly played out by Feingold himself, appearing as one of Wendy's dates. So it's understandable that Wendy and Milo are creating a relationship that equalises the power and keeps emotions at bay. But even if millennials have their own way of playing the game, it's still the same old game. And it's never been easy.

The young cast is likeable and cheeky, blithely playing with relationship issues with different levels of understanding and naivete. Each of the central characters naturally blur gender roles, and their conversations are riotously meandering. Reale and Young-White, and Cohen and Muller, play their scenes with an effortless charisma that remains just short of smug. Which lets us identify with each of them as they navigate their distinct journeys into and around love.

Even if it feels thoroughly predictable, it's nice to see a dual-strand romcom with a structure that feels fresh even as it sticks rather closely to the formula. It's also a rare movie that realistically integrates a smartphone into the fabric of relationships, and it does so with a sparky sense of humour. There are serious layers as well, touching on honest fears about intimacy and expectations. But the overall tone is light and observant, like a dramatised stand-up routine about dating. And it keeps a smile on our faces.

cert 12 themes, language, sexuality 5.Sep.21

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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall