Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Script Review: The Only Living Boy In New York

Here's another script review from Simon, this time for The Only Living Boy in New York, written by Allan Loeb. If King of Kong director Seth Gordon is all I want him to be, this could turn out to be one of the best films of 2008. I've got a different kind of piece on this script coming soon, too - but be sure to read Simon's take now. This is a great review, and it's going to leave you very, very keen to see the film.

Many films get tagged as a “modern-day Graduate”. Last to stake a claim was Zack Braff’s Garden State – an emo coming of age story for Generation Y. Allan Loeb’s The Only Living Boy In New York will be the next major film to get lumped in with The Graduate. Of course, by lifting its title from a Simon & Garfunkel song (one that also turned up in Garden State), Loeb is obviously aware of the similarities.

Loeb toiled for years in Hollywood trying to launch his writing career. Frustrated and broke, he wrote The Only Living Boy In New York thinking it would be his last. Two years on and he’s hot property. The Only Living Boy In New York is set up at Columbia with the promising Seth Gordon attached to direct.

Along with this project, he is also behind Susanne Bier’s upcoming Things We Lost in the Fire and the big-screen version of Ben Mezrich’s thrilling card-counters-take-Vegas book, Bringing Down the House. How quickly things change.

The Only Living Boy In New York tells the story of a recent graduate, Thomas Webb, who finds himself adrift and directionless in New York. Thomas wants to be a writer, but his father Nathan, a hotshot publisher, thinks Thomas’ attempt at a book isn’t up to scratch. Thomas is also unrequitedly in love with Mimi, a girl he met in a bookstore but can’t get break through the “just friends” zone. The rest of the Webbs aren’t particularly stable either, mother Judith is in melt-down and Nathan is off gallivanting with the sexy Johnanna. Thomas’ discovery of his father’s affair sparks the story into motion and he soon becomes involved with Nathan’s ice-cool blonde mistress.

W.F. Gerald, Thomas’ neighbour and a renowned novelist, befriends him and becomes a mentor of sorts, he also uses him as inspiration, with Thomas becoming the main character in his new book.

Allan Loeb has written a story that is honest, sincere and despite being set in the world of NY intelligentsia, never alienates or becomes pompous. It deals with the human condition, what is it to love and be loved, growing up, defining ourselves… things that tap into our own experiences.

Perhaps that is what made The Graduate tick? A generation of people in early adulthood in the 60s all saw something recognisable in Benjamin Braddock. With a strong cast, and if Seth Gordon delivers on his potential, this film could be something special.

Loeb’s writing style is economical but not slight, he manages to convey a lot by writing very little. His words flow beautifully and time flies when reading his scripts, had he not been a screenwriter he might have made an excellent novelist. His sharp rise to the Hollywood A-list has drawn comparisons with Charlie Kaufman and Zach Helm. But Loeb isn’t really like either, his writing ignores gimmickry and cuts straight to the heart of the matter.

The Only Living Boy In New York is a film primed for adoption by the MySpace generation, but don’t let that scare you away, it has warmth, wit, intelligence, and intriguing plot turns that pushes it to the very top of the coming of age genre.

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