“The Only Living Boy in New York” is a struggle from start to finish.
Director Marc Webb, turning in his second under-realized film of the year (following spring’s “Gifted”), weakly riffs on “The Graduate” here in this story of Thomas Webb (Brit actor Callum Turner, who looks for the world like the lovechild of Richard Gere and James Franco), a young writer living a privileged existence in upper-crust Manhattan. He can’t stand his father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan), a loaded publisher who’s cheating on his wife Judith (Cynthia Nixon) with the lovely Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). So young Thomas decides to have an affair with Johanna himself, creating a love triangle that reads way more interesting on paper than it plays out on screen.
“Only Living Boy” is full of characters complaining the soul of New York is eroding; “there’s a John Varvatos where CBGB used to be,” sniffs Judith during a dinner party. But these stuffy types are devoid of souls themselves, and hearing them complain about their rich white people problems proves exhausting.
Screenwriter Allan Loeb, responsible for last year’s “Collateral Beauty,” is chiefly to blame here, but no one gets off easy. A scene-chewing, overly ticky Jeff Bridges hangs around the periphery as a mysterious novelist named WF Gerald, whose involvement in the story ratchets up the gimmick factor of this noxious, coming-of-age tale.
If this is New York’s “Only Living Boy,” the city’s in more trouble than its characters are even aware.
‘The Only Living Boy in New York’
Rated R: for language and some drug material
Running time: 88 minutes