Directed by Alex Ross Perry
“Golden Exits”, the very much-expected return of 33-year-old American writer/director Alex Ross Perry, happens to be a futility, regardless the dedication of its ensemble cast. Embracing a one-tone ambiance, this low-key drama is deeply anchored in indulgent conversation, lacking the poetic vision of “Listen Up Philip” and the claustrophobic tension of “Queen of Earth”, which remains Perry’s best film so far.
Perry imagines a 25-year-old Australian woman named Naomi (Emily Browning) arriving in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, NY, to fill the position of archivist required by Nick (Adam Horovitz), a local bourgeois. Perspicacious and attractive, Naomi is a natural seducer and her daily presence with the boss - five feet apart and nine hours a day - becomes a concern for his wife, Alyssa (Chloe Sevigny), who already went through some tribulations in the past regarding infidelity. Also, his unmarried and ever-present sister-in-law, Gwen (Mary-Louise Parker), a manipulative liar according to him, doesn't squander the chance to speculate a bit more and warn everyone she’s attentive. She usually confides with her assistant, Sam (Lily Rabe), whose presence feels redundant, as she doesn’t add anything worthy to the story.
Regardless the suspicious atmosphere lived in Nick’s house, Naomi doesn’t make a move toward her boss. It’s quite the opposite, actually, since she sends him home on his birthday, after an unexpected visit in the middle of the night. However, she decides to re-direct her seducing spell to Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), a family friend of her age who lives in the neighborhood and recently opened a music studio with his wife, Jess (Analeigh Tipton).
The material, feeding on both complex and unbalanced relationships, only works sparsely. At the minimum sign of surprise or tension, everything gets lost in the rational monotony of the dialogues. Moreover, the characters feel shallow and distant, making us not to care about their residual problems. Every problematic circumstance they might experience seems to have exactly the same emotional weight.
Cinematographer Sean Price Williams kept emphasizing the warm tones of the captured images in order to compensate the coldness and linearity of the fictional individuals. However, not even the numerous close-ups did the magic trick.
Emotionally parched, “Golden Exits” is a film of misconceptions based upon choices, behaviors, and romantic frustrations. In the end, it leaves us stiffly cold and utterly disappointed.