March 23, 2009
MOVIES: "NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST"
N & N is a surprisingly sweet romance. It has the look and feel of a low-budget, amateurish student film. Even the inspired acting looks amateurish, all except for Michael Cera (what a pro--this movie made me "get him" for the first time) and Ari Gaynor (Norah's perpetually drunken friend). These two probably just don't know how to practice their craft amateurishly--if that's what the movie was going for. There is real chemistry and romance between Nick and Norah. Kat Dennings plays Norah with the awkwardness of the girl longing for love who never gets noticed. Michael Cera plays the fool hopelessly in love with the girl who's only playing. Nick and Norah bond over true compatibility: they're both obsessed with music--the same kind of music. Norah sees into Nick's soul--something his cheating, self-absorbed, superficial, off-again-on-again girlfriend will never be able to do.
I'm not exactly sure what the title of the film means, but it does underline the rather perfect soundtrack accompanying the film, sometimes as diagetic (the characters hear it too), sometimes as simple soundtrack.
There's nothing rushed about this small film, AND it's really a journey film, a road trip, albeit only lurching around New York City in a bright yellow Yugo--reminiscent of the troubled yellow VW bus in "Little Miss Sunshine"--all in one night, searching for the elusive band "Fluffy."
Nick's gay friends (and fellow band members) feel like a throwback to the requisite "product placement" gay folk of a decade ago: one-dimensional, saintly, the only kindly ones, the only ones who know what love is, the only ones who can help their straight friends with their romantic troubles, etc.) There are a few religious slams: Caroline (Norah's drunken friend) "finds Jesus" at a gay, Christmas-themed cabaret where altar boys don't wear pants.
Unfortunately, very unfortunately, the sex scene mars the whole thing. It is very discreet, a highly original set-up in a recording studio, but trivial. Oh so trivial. Not only is it one of the fastest sex scenes ever, finding the band is more important. Nick can't get away from Norah fast enough, and she has to run after him to catch up. Nice. What a gent.
One line of dialogue jumped out suspiciously at me: "Nick, the Beatles had it right. No one wants to be married to you for a hundred years, they just wanna hold your hand." They don't? I'm not worth that? Life is just a one-night stand?
Kat Dennings is natural and lovely. Michael Cera is actually cute when he turns on the charm. If only the friends in this movie, so solicitous looking out for each other in so many ways, could extend that solicitude to the most intimate and sacred of human interactions (as in: wait till you're committed, save it till you're married). Seriously, the gum got more TLC.