The New Romantic is the feature debut of Carly Ann Stone that debuted at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. It is about a college senior who, frustrated with romance, gives up on dating guys her own age and begins an arrangement with an older man in which they date in exchange for gifts.
At its core, this is a pretty typical romantic comedy. It follows the general arc of the genre pretty much to the beat, not doing much to diverge from it. However, the film has enough flair in its thematic focus that it feels fresh and entertaining nonetheless.
The protagonist is certainly compelling. Her view on romance is one to which many can relate, as they feel like the only one in the world who still values romance. However, the ultimate message, that romance isn’t truly dead if you still believe in it, is one that is quite inspiring.
The story also contains a subplot about journalism. This allows for some interesting commentary on the ethical rules that govern journalism. Although the film does at times feel like it has bitten off a bit more than it can chew, it usually comes together for an enjoyable and thoughtful viewing experience.
The supporting characters are also well-written too. The character Ian was particularly interesting. Over the course of the movie, his appearance in our eyes changes, mirroring his change in the eyes of the protagonist. This parallelism allows the audience to be drawn even closer to the protagonist. The protagonist’s roommate was also surprisingly well-written for a comedic relief character.
Additionally, the pacing is quite strong. There are many funny moments throughout. The funniest characters are the protagonist’s roommate and the editor at the paper for which she writes. Each of them gets a few hilarious scenes that are among the highlights of the film. The protagonist gets some quite humorous moments too.
The execution was surprisingly good too. The editing and cinematography are done in a way that gives the film a somewhat visceral, but not exactly dream-like feel. This goes with the tone and message quite well. The performances are also good. Jessica Barden is great as the lead. She is charismatic, funny, and vulnerable — containing all of the values that the role demanded. Hayley Law, Avan Jogia, and Timm Sharp are all good in the supporting cast too.
Overall, The New Romantic is an interesting and funny romantic comedy. It’s one of those films that pokes fun at the genre while still adhering to the tropes, so if you enjoy that kind of thing, this is for you.
The New Romantic is now in select theaters and on demand.