The Boy Downstairs
Love and careers hardly get along well, with the drama between heart and brain becoming the core of many romances, spiced to a varying degree by additional elements. The Boy Downstairs tenderly plays with this unending conflict, this time focusing on two rather insecure subjects.
Diana (Zosia Mamet) is back in New York from a two-year adventure in London, determined to cultivate her dream of becoming a writer. First of all, the young woman looks for a new home, which she finds in the same building as her ex-boyfriend – the sweet Ben (Matthew Shear) – whose heart she broke just before jumping over the Atlantic, fearing the distance would have made the relationship impossible. After their initial awkward encounters, the two need to face the fact that a friendship alone cannot work between them.
Sophie Brooks’s directorial debut is a polished, sweet romcom that deals with more than just the evident shyness of its protagonists. The fear and uncertainty surrounding Diana’s future job prospects create a hurdle for the aspiring author, who desires to prevent wounds but actually causes regrets.
The pace of the film is quite slow, but the witty dialogue keeps it lightly chugging along. The exchanges between characters, both in words and in movements, are stretched by multiple pauses and long hesitations. Mumbling Ben and ever-smiling Diana look like the adult version of teenagers on their first date. The battles they are fighting within themselves, however, are bigger than a dithering discovery: uneasiness and the massive obstacle of anxiety keep the couple distant from each other.
Moving back and forth between the past and the present, the movie follows the development of the relationship, from its beginning until it reaches the current awkward neighbourhood. The alternating flashbacks run smoothly, creating a nice storyline.
Mamet and Shear brilliantly meet the challenge posed by the script: they seamlessly embody the timid personalities without being ridiculously clumsy – appearing tender but not over-sentimental. Deirdre O’Connell is amiable as Amy, who supports Diana, playing both the wise motherly figure and the amusing mature friend.
The music by David Buckley is simply a perfect match with the visuals. By accompanying the sequences without dominating them, the tunes do not become excessively emotional in tone, but rather pleasantly sustain the gentle narrative turns of The Boy Downstairs.
The Boy Downstairs is released nationwide on 8th June 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Boy Downstairs here: