The Only Living Boy in New York | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Only Living Boy in New York

Marc Webb’s film has trouble moving past assorted tropes


As we know from countless other films, novels and even memoirs, meaningful life for sensitive young men who yearn for creative fulfillment is truly difficult, especially if they come from New York City’s affluent corners. There’s so much to fret about: Is my girlfriend arty enough? Is she even my girlfriend? Will anyone get my novel? Is the Lower East Side too trendy now to slum in? 

Thomas (Callum Turner) has all these problems and more. He’s just discovered that his father (Pierce Brosnan) is having an affair with a colleague named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Thomas decides to resolve this emotional crisis … by pursuing Johanna as well. His tenement neighbor, a salty, boozy author played with gusto in his sleep by Jeff Bridges, encourages this skeevy set-up, under the guise of “making poor decisions to further one’s art” or something. (Let us pause to remember how much of what we see on screen is written, as is this, by men.) 

Marc Webb’s film trundles along in this familiar vein, with awkward dinner parties, a wedding and assorted pining. Then, unfortunately, it takes the soap-opera turn that it looked like it was going to take but you hoped it wouldn’t. It’s a groaner of a plot device, and even less satisfying since we all saw it coming.