“Love, life, it’s tough guys” – The Boy Downstairs (London Film Festival Review)

Rating:

Having been called a homage to filmmakers such as Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers, it seems little unfair as this may alienate those who tend avoid stereotypical romantic comedies. The Boy Downstairs written and directed Sophie Brooks doesn’t follow the same ‘rules’ exactly.

There is of course a heroine, Diana, who has her quirks and aspires to be a writer but not long before she plans to move to London she meets Ben, finishing his student days with plans to be a musician. They fall in love but never discuss the inevitable separation. She doesn’t want to hold him back so despite being in love with him, ends the relationship. Love, life, it’s tough guys.

The story of how Diana and Ben met, loved and how their relationship ended is revealed in snippet flashbacks weaved in-between Diana and Ben meeting again when she returns to New York. The fact that she just so happens to move into his building is pure coincidence, although some people don’t believe her. Her ability to write her novel is distorted as her feelings towards Ben, who she has convinced herself that she wants to be friends with, change each day. Only when she has a realisation and announces her feelings is she able to be unburdened and continue writing.

Zosia Mamet isn’t fast-talking at all, instead adopting a very different character that knows what they want but can’t seem to grasp it until its too late. Thinking about the bigger picture and ‘what ifs’ she almost ruins her chances of happiness, without thinking she can have both a relationship and career. There is a wonderfully awkward but natural chemistry between Mamet’s Diana and Matthew Shear’s Ben that makes the film flow easier, especially in this genre.

Brooks said that she enjoys telling are simple and personal stories, making The Boy Downstairs, a quiet, elegant and sometimes romantic one about a woman who isn’t able to admit to herself, at first, that she made a mistake. Instead of trying to win back what she lost, she comes to terms with her decisions of her younger self and ultimately makes bold new choices that bring her happiness, something she denied herself before.

Dir: Sophie Brooks

Prd: Dan Clifton, Leon Clarence, David Brooks

Scr: Sophie Brooks

Cast: Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Deirdre O’Connell, Diana Irvine

DoP: Stefan Weinberger

Music: David Buckly

Country: USA

Running time: 90 minutes

The Boy Downstairs premieres at the BFI London Film Festival 2017 and we will be released in UK Spring 2018