Friday, 1 May 2015

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Title: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Director: Peter Sollett
Released: 2008
Starring: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor, Alexis Dziena, Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron, Jay Baruchel, Jonathan B. Wright

Plot: Nick (Cera) the sole straight member of the Queercore band “The Jerk Offs”, still pining for his ex-girfriend Tris (Dziena), finds himself thrown together with fellow indie music fan Norah as they embark on a quest to find a secret gig being held by their favourite band “Where’s Fluffy?”.

Review: One of a spate of indie comedies which for one reason or another managed to transcend themselves into the mainstream conscious. Perhaps slightly less surprising for this film seeing how its based around the love of indie music, let alone the fact it stars Michael Cera who at the time was coming in hot off “Arrested Development” were he’d perfected his now trademark softly spoken awkwardness and which he brings here as the Heartbroken Nick, who spends his time obsessively making Breakup mixtapes unaware that his ex is just tossing them in the trash. At the same time these mixtapes are being collected by Norah who also dislikes Tris for her own reasons yet can’t escape her due to them sharing a friend in Caroline (Graynor).

While Cera might be playing his usual role, Kat Dennings on the other hand as Norah here is essentially the polar opposite to the sort of character we have become accustomed to seeing her playing, starting out quiet and retiring and slowly over the course of the night her character morphs into a more confident and essentially closer to the character we expect her to being playing. Even though she’s not playing her usual confronting and sarcastic style, she like Cera still makes for an engaging lead and doesn’t lose anything by playing against type, even if it as times strange to see her frequently acting so vulnerable in situations when you’d expect her to be tearing that person down in any other role.

Taking in a twilight tour of New York’s indie hotspots as the pair attempt to find the location of the secret gig, all the while having to deal with obstacles such as their problem ex’s, Nick’s crazed bandmates and a bunch of frenzied drag queens determined to celebrate Christmas all year round. The film in many ways playing like a more mobile version of “Clerks” with Nick’s yellow Yugo which constantly gets mistaken by drunken clubbers for being a Taxi cab.  However while the setup might be about them getting together from the start, you really couldn’t tell this was ever the plan seeing how the pair don’t spend the whole time making cliché moves on each other or engaging in quasi cool conversations. Only occasionally do we get a longing look or some indication that this pair could be something more, infact it seems that Nick’s friends see the potential in their relationship long before they do, with Norah getting a quick make over from his friends even though she’s essentially just met them.

As a result of events not playing out as traditionally as expected, we instead get akward moments of Nick and Norah facing their ex’s for which they both seemingly hold some residual feels yet unsure how to proceed as they both have feelings for each other while unsure how the other feels about them, leaving them stranded in a relationship no man’s land. For Nick he has to face Tris’s sudden increase of interest in him, due to the fact that she believes that he has moved on with Norah, even attempting to seduce him via an impromptus seductive dance to Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing”. A moment which really only highlights just how different Tris and Nick are, especially going off their musical tastes as also highlighted by how casually they disregards the break up mixtapes he’s been obsessively making for her. Norah on the other hand has to deal with her own ex / friend with benefits Tal (Baruchel) whose interest is seemingly more grounded in getting his band demo tape to her record producer father.

The other main obstacle standing in their way is the disappearing act pulled by Caroline which serves mainly to enable some of the cities more random nightlight spots to be showcased including a drag queen revue which generally adds some colour to the film rather than just being a series of identikit indie clubs. At the same time these club sequences ensure that the soundtrack is kept packed with some cool sounds, even if I’d be pressed to

While this twilight journey through New York is largely a fun one and both Dennings and Cera share some great on screen chemistry, especially with Cera’s awkwardness really working with his character. It is however let down by the wet fart of an ending which lacks and of the required payoff you’d want, especially after the journey you have been through with these characters, more so when they so casually write off the goal they have been chasing, which it seems that director Sollett feels has more significance, but here it mainly makes you wonder why they put so much importance on finding the band in the first place.

A flawed yet still enjoyable indie romcom that hits enough of the right notes to make it still a worthwhile watch, even if it doesn’t really much in the way of surprises along the way.

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