by Leigh Paatsch
THERE is a good film that never quite breaks free from some unnecessarily tangled scripting in the new romantic drama The Only Living Boy in New York.
It is still a fine watch for the most part, especially if you resign yourself to the fact the quality will never surge past a certain level.
Rising British star Callum Turner (Green Room and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel) plays Thomas, a young college graduate infatuated with exactly the right girl at exactly the wrong time in life.
Mimi (Kiersey Clemons, another actor of considerable promise) just wants to be friends, which pushes Thomas towards another relationship he may not have the experience nor resilience to handle.
Particularly as Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), the woman he has set his new sights on, is considerably older, and is also the mistress of his emotionally remote father (Pierce Brosnan).
In most movies, this would be more than enough material to fill the slender 85 minutes of time The Only Living Boy in New York intends to use up.
However, by adding too many extra featured characters to the story, the screenplay continually buckles under the weight and changes in shape.
The prime example of this ongoing problem is a role played by Jeff Bridges. He appears intermittently as a veteran writer that has moved into Thomas' building, and has also appointed himself the lad's intellectual mentor and all-round lifestyle advisor.
Though you can see Bridges working hard to make sense of this character, he never comes off as anything more than a walking, talking plot device. (The same fate awaits Cynthia Nixon as Thomas' mother.)
While the narrative payoff to the film's intriguing premise - which does owe a partial debt to Dustin Hoffman's The Graduate, which turned 50 this year - is far messier and less compelling than it should have been, it must be said that boredom never once sets in here.
Turner, who uncannily resembles a young Richard Gere, displays both a presence and restraint that often anchors The Only Living Boy in New York when it feels as if it could be drifting away.
The Only Living Boy in New York
Stars: Callum Turner, Jeff Bridges, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Kiersey Clemons, Cynthia Nixon.
Director: Marc Webb
Verdict: 3 stars