- English spoken
“I’m back, back in the New York groove,” sings twentysomething Naomi, sitting on the steps in front of one of those unmistakable New York brownstones. Rarely has this once-euphoric song by Kiss sounded so melancholy as in the opening minutes (and trailer) of Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits.
Those first images are the intro to a film with a strong New York touch, about people who appear to have everything they want and yet always find something to complain about. This is very much in the wheelhouse of Alex Ross Perry, the golden boy of American indie film who has assembled an all-star cast of the New York independent scene for his fifth feature, Golden Exits.
The story revolves around that singing girl: the Australian Naomi (Emily Browning). Her arrival in town manages to unintentionally wreak havoc on the lives of several locals. She starts a job as the assistant to archivist Nick (played by Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz), assigned to help him work through the endless stacks of documents left after the passing of his father-in-law. Her presence creates tension in Nick’s relationship with his wife Alyssa (Chloë Sevigny): because Nick strayed from the marriage in the past, Alyssa doesn’t exactly trust him spending every day with this pretty young woman in a tiny basement office. Her stern, determinedly single sister Gwendolyn (Mary-Louise Parker) isn’t shy about sharing her own misgivings about the situation.
When Naomi reaches out to Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), the only person in town she knows, even though she hasn’t seen him since they were kids, this also messes with Buddy’s relationship with Jess (Analeigh Tipton). Jess discusses her insecurities about it with her own sister, Sam (Lily Rabe), who is Gwendolyn’s assistant. While Gwendolyn has made a conscious choice to live her life without a man or child, thirtysomething Sam is actively looking to settle down. The movie takes its title from one of her theories: every relationship has a ‘golden exit’, a moment when you can graciously bow out. It seems like most of the people around her have missed that moment.
And so these seven people comfortably hang around each other, all the while doubting and complaining telling each other half-truths. What’s impressive about Alex Ross Perry’s film is that it never gets boring. He manages to be invested in the troubles of his characters, to make us sympathetic to their doubts and sorrows, while still making it clear that really, they’re a spoiled bunch of whiners. But thanks to the pitch-perfect dialogue and precise cinematography, it’s a pleasure to spend 90 minutes in their company, even if doing the same in real life would probably be unbearable.