Release Date: August 29th, 2007 (IFC Center)
The Cast: Erin Fisher, Cris Lankenau, Sarah Hellman, Joe Swanberg, Tucker Stone.
Directed by Aaron Katz.
BASIC PREMISE: Jamie (Fisher), a 21-year-old from Atlanta, travels to Brooklyn to meet her friend who doesn’t show up, so she spends 24 hours getting to know Charlie (Lankenau), a guy she just met on a subway platform.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: With its thin plot, natural acting and lots of dialogue that feels like a simple slice-of-life, Quiet City quietly keeps you engaged without trying too hard. As the film opens, Jamie arrives at a Brooklyn subway station at night and asks a young man, Charlie, for directions about how to get to a café where she’s supposed to meet her friend. It turns out this friend hasn’t shown up, so, instead of waiting for her all alone, she decides to hang out with Charlie. He seems nice, laid back and kind of resembles a younger version of actor Mark Ruffalo. It’s a bit odd, though, that she doesn’t ask him basic questions like what he does for a living or his age right off the bat, just to those questions out of the way. Throughout the night, they interact, flirt a bit and he even lets her cut his hair. What makes this film so absorbing are all the true-to-life, simple details which gradually reveal more information about Jamie and Charlie. When they wake up, without sleeping together, they go to park just to play with a bouncing ball and to race each other. Then Charlie decides to go on an small adventure to retrieve his hat from his good friend, Adam (Swanberg). Later on they go to an art gallery show for one of Jamie’s friends, Robin (Hellman), and then attend an after-party. It’s quite refreshing to watch young adults acting somewhat responsibly for a change without strong sexual content, profanity or drug use. In other words, this is the antithesis of Superbad. There’s one particular scene when Jamie and Charlie play an electric piano together which recalls a similar scene from the equally realistic drama Once, although without any shaky camera movements. Writer/director Aaron Katz certainly has knack for writing natural, colloquial dialogue that never feels too awkward or contrived. Moreover, the cinematography looks quite picturesque at times, showing the simple, serene beauty of the sky above New York City at dusk or leaves on a tree. Quiet City easily joins the ranks of similar “mumblecore”, slice-of-life films like Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None, other than the importance of going with the flow, being open to making new friends and actually spending some time getting to know them—and no, that doesn’t include smoking/getting drunk with them or sexual intercourse; it means actually talking and listening to them. Unfortunately, in the hustle-and-bustle of this day and age, very few employed people can claim to have enough time for others let alone themselves.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A refreshing, serene and absorbing slice-of-life.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "Q" Menu