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Golden Exits (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Golden Exits


Starring Emily Browning, Adam Horowitz, Mary-Louise Parker, Jason Schwartzman, Chloe Sevigny, Lily Rabe, Analeigh Tipton, Craig Butta, Keith Poulson, Jake Perlin, Kate Lyn Sheil, Jay Giampietro and Ethan Spigland.

Screenplay by Alex Ross Perry.

Directed by Alex Ross Perry.

Distributed by Washington Square Films. 94 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened at the 2017 Philadelphia Film Festival.

Golden Exits has a wonderful ensemble cast, some amazing acting, a terrific visual sense and some very smart and literate dialogue.

So why was it kind of a chore to sit through?

At the screening of the movie which I saw, as the end credits started to roll a woman several rows away from me loudly exclaimed into the dark – three times, with more urgency each time – “People don’t talk like that.” “People don’t talk like that.” “People don’t talk like that!”

You know what? She wasn’t wrong.

While much of the dialogue would dazzle on the printed page, it felt a bit awkward coming out of human mouths. It’s almost like director Alex Ross Perry was mainlining Interiors-era Woody Allen, when he briefly decided to dump the comedy and become a serious artiste. Or, perhaps he was inspired by the works of Allen-wannabe Henry Jaglom (Babyfever, Festival in Cannes), in which the arty, upper-middle-class white characters smartly and pithily drone on and on and on about their every neurosis, without ever once really saying what they wanted or meant to say.

The story is an ensemble piece. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but while there are some very funny lines sprinkled throughout, it’s essentially a drama. A pretty heavy drama at that.

The story revolves around a bunch of arty Greenwich Village forty-something types whose life is thrown into a very controlled chaos when a young and pretty Australian woman on a temporary work visa named Naomi (Emily Browning) enters their lives.

She is exciting and smart and most of the married guys want to have an affair with her, and most of the wives think their husbands probably want to have an affair with her. (None of these guys, or women for that matter, seem to believe it possible for a man and a woman to just be friends. It’s all or nothing time here.)

She enters the group through a childhood friend that Naomi last saw when she was only five, still he is the only person she knows in the States, so on her mother’s suggestion she looks him up. Buddy (Jason Schwartzman) is a small-time music exec who is growing bored of his marriage to his sweet, eternally supportive wife Jess (Analeigh Tipton).

Naomi gets a wonderfully vague job with Nick (Adam Horowitz, aka Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys). He is cataloguing his wife’s father’s estate, a large endeavor that seems to be taking longer than his nagging wife Alyssa (Chloë Sevigny) and her catty sister Gwendolyn (Mary-Louise Parker) would like.

At first, Alyssa is happy that he has the help, but soon she starts obsessing about whether he is sleeping with his young assistant. She keeps confronting him on the subject, to the point that he starts looking at the possibility as well. Gwendolyn, in the meantime, is certain that Naomi would not sleep with Nick, but sees in the younger woman the freedom and sexual power that she used to have when she was younger.

In the meantime, since Buddy is the only person she really knows, Naomi starts hanging out with him. Then he starts getting those feelings too, and feeling guilty for it.

Not that this is the film’s fault, but the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal makes the film a little uncomfortable when Naomi must timidly ask Nick for a job reference not long after she had to rebuff his awkward attempt to hit on her in the office.

All of this is played out among their friends, their co-workers and employees, and even the new nice American guy Naomi has met.

And then they just all talk. And talk. And talk some more. Talk about who wants to sleep with Naomi. Talk about who is trying to sleep with Naomi. Talk about whether being attracted to Naomi is part of a mid-life crisis. Talk about why Naomi won’t sleep with them. Talk about what to do if Naomi might sleep with them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love extremely dialogue-heavy films – Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset series are some of my favorite films ever – but sadly this film does not have Linklater’s light touch. As the woman in the audience said, “People don’t talk like that.”

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: October 28, 2017.


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