Published Sep 09, 2008In the last few years, indie rocks stock has risen substantially in film and television. Nick and Norahs Infinite Playlist is a big fan and wants to show it.
Opening with a notebook page decorated in bubble lettered band names, Peter Sollett litters his movie with talk about hearing an early bootleg, making a series of thematic mix CDs (mourning a break-up) and trying to find a name for a queercore band.
All of this is within the context of one night in NYC, hopping from club to club to try and see a secret gig by everyones favourite (fictitious) band: Wheres Fluffy. In fact, it isnt until the last very scene that music is trumped by something more important: the inevitable romantic culmination.
Michael Cera plays Nick, a high school senior trying to get over a dissolved six-month relationship with Tris (Alexis Dziena). He plays in a post-punky garage band tentatively named the Jerk-Offs, with two gay friends, and excels at mix CDs, which have caught the ear of Norah (Kat Dennings), a nemesis of Tris.
On the night in question, Nick and Norah meet after a Jerk-Offs gig with a kiss in a bid to make Tris jealous. From there, the night takes Nick and Norah across the city looking for both Wheres Fluffy and Norahs lost drunken friend Caroline (Ari Graynor). Their hearts collide, though not without obstacles, and soon enough, they find themselves admitting their affection.
Based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Solletts adaptation is cute and relatively inoffensive, portraying teenagers in an honest way while continuing to show another side of Ceras comic genius. But it has its problems. The events of the night and how they unfold feel too contrived when they should be quite loose.
Early reports likened it to Before Sunrise but despite a few moments here and there (a wet nap provides a darling bit of sentiment), Nick and Norah lacks such magnetic dialogue and instead flows clumsily more like the forgotten 200 Cigarettes.
I feel guilty for not giving a movie with such good intentions (a teen rom-com trying to flaunt good music) more credit but its in an awkward position between the believable and unbelievable, preventing either an escape or a real connection with the audience.
And if Im being honest, its not exactly "indie enough to appeal to that crowd either, leaving itself a much smaller market to work with. (Sony)