The arrival of doe-eyed Australian archive assistant Naomi (Emily Browning) presents somewhat predictable problems for her married boss, Nick (graying Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, in a complex dramatic turn that hints at unspoken guilt) and Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), an old family friend who’s also married but wants to feel younger. Writer-director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) hamstrings his setup by mostly refusing to move off of his ethically challenged men, while the underwritten women—including roles for Chloë Sevigny, Lily Rabe and Mary-Louise Parker—are infinitely more interesting.
The actors do what they can, and Good Time cinematographer Sean Price Williams (Perry’s secret weapon) enrobes the images in a cozy 16-millimeter grain, adding warmth to a relatively cool affair. Actually, perhaps too cool: While you’ll salute Golden Exits for never going full-on Fatal Attraction, it ends up feeling cagey, trapped in the realm of the theoretical and too hip to raise its tensions above a simmer. (“People never make films about ordinary people who never do anything,” Naomi complains early on, seemingly unaware that there’s probably a good reason for that.)
Regardless of these limitations, there’s pleasure to be had in seeing Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens expertly used as a backdrop for bougie romantic frustrations. If you miss the JakeWalk, here’s your opportunity to see the bar revived as the perfect place for neurotic conversations; if you ever ambled down Smith Street in your own mess of emotions, you may be feeling this one.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf