The Only Living Boy in New York
by director Marc Webb
If you’re like me—you dreamed of New York City. The romantic folly of Manhattan cut against the neighborhood violence of Mean Streets and legends of pizza so good people name their children after it. Toughness and cruelty but also grace in the face of treachery. It’s a supple bouillon for the storyteller. It mixes well with aspiration and reflection and humor and secrets and betrayal.
And Thomas Webb is drowning in it all.
He’s bold and energetic, but he’s got no chill. The impulses inside Thomas erupt into fruitless anxieties and the sexually debilitating, leg bobbling insecurities of so many boys in their early twenties. When W.F. comes into the story he gives Thomas a direction. He’s part mentor and part provocateur.
At the beginning of this story, Thomas doesn’t get that these impulses reveal the truth. They’re a map. A set of clues that reveal our nature. He’s so good at negotiating with these urges: desire manifests as hatred which manifests as revulsion. Isn’t that curious—we can be revolted by the very thing we desire? So often, we set our worth by those who reject us, not those who love us. But then again, what does love really mean? Isn’t this is a romance set in a world where love with a capital “L” doesn’t exist?
Even the central event which took place years before our story begins—the night it all went down, where the lies and the repression began—that incident was born from an act of warmth and generosity.
Our story trades in such ironies just like the city in which it’s set.
The New York of Only Living Boy is a confection. It is not ‘of the moment,’ it is not about social media or Di Blasio. Its palate is classical and, I hope, timeless: an elevated, stylized setting that welcomes characters like W.F. and Johanna. This is the New York I imagined before I ever came to New York.