Nobody panic but New Yorkers may be running out of subjects for romcoms. ‘The Boy Downstairs’ spins 89 minutes out of the story of a young woman who, upon returning from three years abroad, realises she’s inadvertently moved into an apartment upstairs from her ex. That’s literally it – no twists, no subplots, just a girl, a guy and a beautifully varnished hardwood floor.
The girl is Diana (Zosia Mamet from ‘Girls’), a budding author who ran from her relationship with Ben (Matthew Shear) when things turned serious. Now they’re in close proximity, will she realise the dreadful error she’s made? What do you think?
With not a lot going on ideas-wise, debut writer-director Sophie Brooks plugs the gaps with stock romcom characters and situations. So Diana has an unconventional day job – selling wedding dresses – and a kooky BFF (Diana Irvine). Her landlady is a brassy dame who dishes out life lessons, and her love rival is a snippy shrew who doesn’t deserve gentle Ben’s affections. With likeable performances and serviceable one-liners, there’s nothing truly reprehensible here, though the combination of ostentatious (and very white) privilege and ‘why me?’ angst can get off-putting. If only ‘The Boy Downstairs’ had something – anything – new to say.