Here is yet another movie about an angst-ridden, 20-something scion of a notable Manhattan family who just can’t get out of his own head long enough to realize that things are, on balance, going pretty well.
It’s one of the most tired tropes around — and when you throw into the mix a magical neighbor named W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges), whose sole purposes seems to be to advise our morose protagonist Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) on his problems; halfhearted platitudes about gentrification and more — you’re left with a veritable soup of New York intellectual cliches.
“The Only Living Boy in New York” is a dreary slog through this territory, a movie directed by Marc Webb and scripted by Allan Loeb seemingly without the slightest regard for the fact that everyone from Whit Stillman to Woody Allen has played out this narrative territory, and with even less knowledge of what it’s actually like to live in New York City these days.
When the plot sets in motion and it becomes apparent that Thomas will begin an affair with his father’s mistress (Pierce Brosnan is Dad, Kate Beckinsale plays Johanna), the movie, which aspires toward earnestness, descends even further into the realm of farce.
These are quality actors and there’s some vivid cinematography — courtesy of Stuart Dryburgh, who captures some of the less-than-interesting parts of the city, such as the vicinity of Bryant Park, with a degree of crisp atmospheric warmth that gives the movie a rich veneer it doesn’t deserve.
But by the time the eponymous Simon & Garfunkel song plays and Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna” makes its expected appearance; as Thomas whines and whines and the convolutions pile up; the whole enterprise becomes weirdly exhausting.