Published Jan 23, 2017With successes like Listen Up Philip and Queen of Earth, writer, director and actor Alex Ross Perry has quickly established himself as one of independent cinema's most esteemed filmmakers. His witty dialogue, penchant for detail and care for aesthetics make him a trustworthy source for high-quality films. However, while it's not terrible by any stretch of the mind, Golden Exits slows down the momentum on his impressive career.
The film stars Emily Browning as Naomi, a young Australian woman who has an intoxicating allure to the older men she meets. Nick, a middle-aged grump (impeccably acted by real-life middle-aged grump and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz) who works for his wealthy in-laws, is clearly interested in some extracurricular philandering with Naomi when she's hired as his assistant. Similarly, record producer Buddy (Jason Schwartzman, in an extremely Jason Schwartzman role) is also interested in mucking about when he crosses paths with Naomi.
Both Nick and Buddy are married men, and both have already earned the distrust of their wives, Alyssa and Jess (Chloë Sevigny and Analeigh Tipton, respectively). The film is obsessed with cheating, and how even entertaining the thought can upset a relationship.
With its piano score and warm film tones, Golden Exits is aesthetically sublime. Further, the actors do well with what they've been given (Mary-Louise Parker is particularly great as Alyssa's spiteful sister). Unfortunately, the script feels both overwritten and underwritten. The female characters, in particular, feel a little flat, and everyone's dialogue is morose and self-obsessed, as if they're all experiencing the exact same symptoms of depression. When these missteps collide with the film's look and score, the whole thing starts to feel a bit pretentious.
Golden Exits isn't bad, per se, but Perry is capable of much better. In a post-screening Sundance Q&A, the director was wickedly funny and self-effacing, practically doing standup instead of discussing his film. It feels safe to say that Golden Exits might be his Interiors, but as with that film's director, we'd all prefer it if he'd stick to pure comedy. (Bow and Arrow)