Alex Ross Perry's latest New York comedy is too bogged down in misery and mutedness
Wunderkind cult auteur Alex Ross Perry, whose caustic comedy Listen Up Philip was one of the standout films of in 2014, returns with another richly shot 16mm character study with a lived-in New York feel and a heavy-hitting cast. Adam Horovitz, of Beastie Boys fame, plays a documents archivist coming dangerously close to an inappropriate relationship with his summer assistant, a 25-year-old Australian graduate played by Emily Browning, who in turn is more interested in a married man played by Jason Schwartzman. Chloë Sevigny plays the therapist married to Horovitz, who suspects all is not well, and Mary-Louise Parker is her sister, drowning in indolence, self-obsession and despair.
The title of Golden Exits refers to the idea that if you’re passing through someone’s life, you want to leave them with positivity. The drama shows how easily it is to instead cause disrepair. There’s a sense of gloom pervading the movie, similar to Perry’s 2015 effort Queen of Earth, and while it has novelistic detail and a sense of intelligence, the movie is also bogged down in misery and mutedness. When this fails to build into any kind of substantial emotional epic, the effect is more suffocating than anything else. “The grass is dead – I’m covered with salt,” says Louise-Parker's character at one point. There’s a lot of that going around.
Golden Exits screened at London Film Festival on 6, 7 & 9 Oct