I’ll admit it right off the bat – I did not know what to make of Newly Single. The story follows an aspiring, and seemingly newly successful indie-filmmaker called Astor. He is, as the title suggests, single after his girlfriend leaves him. What follows is a series of romantic and sexual adventures – and misadventures – between Astor and a number of different women. So, as you can tell, the plot is very simple. It’s barely there and focuses solely on its characters. Far from a bad thing, there are plenty of films I love that do the same thing.
Newly Single as a film is also very well crafted. I cannot fault the actors, all of who do an excellent job at capturing their characters. They feel as close to being a real person as the people you went to school or go to work with. You don’t know more about them that what you are given, but it is enough for you to know them well enough. Astor is the primary character, and I didn’t like him. That is not me calling him a bad character – he is exceptionally well realised and the writing for him could not have been better, not to mention the pitch perfect performance of actor Adam Christian Clark. I simply didn’t like him because I don’t like people like him – self-absorbed, pretentious and carrying that unintentional holier-than-thou-art attitude.
Newly Single’s writer/director, also Adam Christian Clark, does have a keen eye for how to film his vision. This is clearly a passion project and it’s very well presented. The cinematography, especially the use of colour and lighting, was very striking – your eyes will be drawn to the screen with little resistance. While any music I found to be forgettable, even while watching it, but the dialogue is interesting and not entirely hard to listen to. Not liking the character for who he is, is certainly a problem when it comes to hearing the dialogue, but it was never a deal breaker for me.
My issue with the film was simply that I had no idea what it was meant to be. I just couldn’t grasp what it was that was bothering me and what the very core of the film was. That was until I found out that Newly Single is a comedy – then things started to fall back into place. Yes, it’s obvious now – and it certainly accounts for scenes like a woman being horrified when Astor comes out to show her his literal gun, when she thought he meant his crotch, not to mention the scene when Astor gets vomited on during oral sex. But that’s where my issue lays. Newly Single, for all it does simply isn’t funny. I get the feeling that something like The Big Lebowski or any number of Woody Allen films contributed to the film’s influences. But for me, those films worked because I either liked the main characters or because they had a strange quirk that helped them hit the right spots. Newly Single is well constructed but it isn’t quirky.
Comedy is of course one of the most subjective of all genres. Whatever I don’t find funny, there will be somebody out there who does. The same goes for when I laugh but someone else is silent. I just can’t recommend a comedy that didn’t make me laugh. I can recommend a good character study and drama though, and on that Newly Single succeeds. It’s not devoid of joy or entertainment, and I’d say it’s worth a look. Maybe you will see something that I couldn’t, and I am willing to accept that somethings I missed in this one. I just won’t be revisiting it any time soon.
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