The Good Guy
Directed by Julio DePietro
"Bad" equals "Wall Street" in The Good Guy, a caustic depiction and moral exploration of Bloomberg's New York couched in the conventions of the romantic dramedy. Vagina-waxing bitches and douchebag daytraders, a.k.a megamoney misogynists—indistinguishable white dudes and carefully placed minorities, for Hangover-style "hilarity"—surround the only living decent twentysomethings in New York, the City of Bullshitters: an army-vet computer tech (Bryan Greenberg) and a urban conservationist (Alexis Bledel). She preserves old things, like New Amsterdam-era walls, and old ways, like human decency. In the contemporary city, where she and her soldier boy are moral outsiders, a million dollars is "a buck," coinage goes in the garbage, books are gay, being nice to women is gay, piñatas are packed with prescription pills and "old-fashioned" means "preferring vaginal intercourse".
Bledel begins the film in a young relationship with a stock-exchanging hotshot (Scott Porter), a workaholic (at a firm called "Morgan Brothers") with a romantic streak: The Cloisters are closed? No problem! Night watchman, open up! We're young rich white people in love! But his goodness dissipates as the film progresses; first time writer-director DePietro, who spent some time in the world of high finance before becoming a movie producer, exposes his hero as an unreliable narrator—a storytelling trick lifted here, with a nod, from Ford Maddox Ford. Porter's character lies to the audience like it's just another girlfriend.
Soldier boy, meanwhile, rises to the status of title character: in contrast to the big-bonus villains, he and Bledel hang out at Housing Works, gab about literature and keep their pants on more often than not—because "good" here means not having a lot of casual sex. They're also seemingly humorless—another, sigh, symbol of virtue. I'm not sure I'd want to live in their New York, but I certainly don't want to live in the one the stockbrokers have created in their own image. The Good Guy pitches Wall Street as the breeding ground of betrayal, decadence and general immorality: in a word, evil. City-swallowing evil. Then, late in the film, DePietro shoots the N.Y.S.E. draped in American flaggery; that image suggests the evil isn't solely a regional problem, but one that extends well beyond Lower Manhattan.
Opens February 19