Aimlessly Boozing at Hipster Parties in Brooklyn: Northeast

02/20/2013 4:00 AM |

Directed by Gregory Kohn

This movie features so many ingredients also present in one of last year’s foreign gems, Oslo, August 31st, that it’s hard not to see it as a Scandinavian-American transfiguration, if not a direct transplant. Take Northeast’s main character, Will, a young man safely grown out of his college dorm but with no adult credentials: no job, no aspirations, no steady girlfriend. Will’s whispery looks, though considerably healthier, recall his Nordic counterpart’s, and he sure has a similarly sleek way with girls. Then there is the loving portrait of Brooklyn, with all the hipster parties that feel only a step removed from Oslo’s own careless boozing. There is the magic of fleeting encounters, the parade of bed scenes in which you sense the key connection might be made, a personal, emotional breakthrough attained. Much of Oslo’s magic depended precisely on the possibility of a connection: the chance turnaround in a young man’s life, which might prove to him that his life was yet worth living.

But broad-stroke similarities between the two films are ultimately deceptive, for under Oslo’s studied cool there was the splintering psyche of its main character, a recovering but slowly unraveling drug addict. Oslo suggested that youth itself was a kind of addiction, and that letting go of it, its idealism and bold sense of no compromise, might just be too high a price for some. Northeast, unfortunately, does no such thing. Will’s peregrinations through the borough are not rich evocations of his childhood, nor do they point to his future—his journey never amounts to more than a loosely strung series of encounters. And while there might be some epistemological value to faithfully portraying one man’s relative thoughtlessness with little buildup, and in spite of all the sympathy we might extend to an arch-representative of the latest lost generation, Northeast never finds enough direction, or gathers enough oomph, to leave a lasting impression.

Opens February 22