Carly Ann Stone’s ‘The New Romantic’ starts with an essential premise. In this age of swiping lefts and right, is there still romance? Blake (Jessica Barden) writes a column for the college newspaper on romance, but she is being kicked out for lack of ‘action.’ The film then goes off-tangent and goes on a storyline about sugar babies. The film has very good intentions, but comes up short, feeling unfocused. Barden is great, giving her character a light millennial Carrie Bradshaw vibe (complete with similar voice overs) but gets lost in the film’s fumble. What’s worse, a semi-romantic ending is tacked on to it, half-baked, trapping the film to what it promised ti would not be. Wasted opportunity, not even an A for effort.
‘First Comes Like’ fares better, maybe because it has no pretensions of it being anything other than a small blip of a story – two people get matched on a Tinder-type and now what? In a course of a day, they start talking, unload their emotional baggage to each other, and by the end of the night something is clearer. Directed by Noel Douglas Orput, it accomplishes a lot despite its budget constraints. The lead characters, Jeff and Kate (played by Joe Fria and Robin de Lano) are amiable enough, and you see enough of their personalities. I think I liked most that the characters are a little older, making them seem more ‘real’ and not just your usual run-of-the-mill cutesy characters.