Manhattan Romance

December 27, 2016

Manhattan Romance does not know what it’s trying to be, and it’s fine with that. The ambiguity isn’t helped by the protagonist, a male filmmaker who has a pet documentary project whereby he interviews people to discover their loving relationships. What exactly is he trying to get out of it? He himself, after all, struggles with understanding why he cannot begin, or enter, relationships on his own. Perhaps then, he is looking for an answer as to the reason why?


The film gives us clues as to what the reason for that is. That ultimately, he remains indifferent and distant to whoever he is developing with until presumptively they get up or he does. There seems to be one woman in particular, however, where he does not have an issue with being intimate (at least emotionally to start) with, and that is his close friend and former straight female. The quality conversations they share about his problems, and the genuine support she gives to him, is like that of a girlfriend or boyfriend. They are almost oblivious to their closeness, which we must wonder why. The chemistry they have for each other is so much more natural than with her current girlfriend, who happened to have quote turned her. There is then the predictable tryst the two friends have with each other, which again does not remedy any of the protagonist’s problems per se. It seems, then, that romance in Manhattan is non-existent. He is, after all, exploring an open relationship with a new age hippie, and likewise, his female bff was just recently a heterosexual. All to say, the fluidness of what is supposed to be definitive and structured seems to escape in the city. Not surprisingly then, the moment he leaves it, he begins to start something substantial.


This is a repeated contemporary theme with respect to Manhattan. In that, the quintessential ideas of romance are subverted instead of elevated as we would hope to find in a supposed zenith of civilization. Of course, New York City is not exclusive in the history of civilization in its decadence; the hive-minded superfluousness of a megalopolitan city typically does disorient and distort and utterly deify the human spirit. It’s amusing in other words the plastic relationships on display have nothing in common with what supports forward motion of mankind. Structure, discipline, principles do – which are needed most in the chemical fires of sexual relationships.


Perhaps the protagonist is simply born in the wrong time – but as we can see, he existed in simply the wrong place.


Grade: B-


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