Lenny (Chianese) and Ruben (Latessa) are two alter kockers who feel like outcasts in a town dominated by high-rises and the wealthy young people who live and work in them. Frequenting their favorite mom-and-pop stores, these age-old friends argue incessantly about money, the state of their beloved Manhattan and the possibility of finally moving away from their longtime home. Lenny’s world is shattered when he learns that his investments have all gone south, leaving him nearly penniless. A chance at romance with the elegant Mimi (Chalfant) lends the schemer a newfound sense of zeal, but his recovery plan is morally dubious at best.
An ode to the last remnants of a pregentrified New York, photographer-turned-filmmaker Harvey Wang’s debut feature is visually sumptuous, and there’s a subtlety in its depiction of the rapidly changing landscape. Yet Wang’s geriatrics don’t quite ring true as representatives of the Gotham that once was, and Chianese’s scenery-chewing performance doesn’t temper an outrageous take on contemporary city life. Still, The Last New Yorker offers not just a rare portrait of urban septuagenarians, but one without a hint of dewy-eyed nostalgia.