The Boy Downstairs: ‘When Harry Met Sally’ for millennials

Zosia Mamet shows a delicate comic touch in this hugely likeable New York rom-com

Floored relationship: Zosia Mamet and Matthew Shear in The Boy Downstairs

Film Title: The Boy Downstairs

Director: Sophie Brooks

Starring: Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Deirdre O'Connell, Diana Irvine, Sarah Ramos, Arliss Howard, Deborah Offner, David Wohl

Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 91 min

Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 05:00

   

Adam Driver has thrown his lot in with the Dark Side and Allison Williams went darker still in Get Out, but Girls alumnus Zosia Mamet is all bittersweetness and light in this hugely likeable New York rom-com.

As with the Lena Dunham series, and much of Woody Allen’s early Big Apple milieu, The Boy Downstairs is mostly populated by aspiring something-or-others. Mamet’s Diana is working on a novel; her sometime-boyfriend is involved with music, somehow. When the dress code for a rooftop party is “fancy”, Diana turns up as Hamilton. There are drunken, disappointed nights out, kooky chums, occasional phoneys, and various overbearing parents.

Returning from three years in London, Diana is introduced to real estate agent Meg (Ramos) by her wacky best friend, Gabby (Irvine), and quickly lands an apartment so perfect it could feature in a 1990s reality show.

Brownstone

The fancy upper level of a brownstone house, Diana’s new dwelling comes with a fun, free-spirited, widowed owner-occupier (O’Connell) and – whoops – Diana’s ex-boyfriend Ben living in the basement.

Ben (Noah Baumbach regular Shearer), the former beau, is visibly horrified to discover the identity of his new neighbour and even suggests that she ought to leave. His current girlfriend is even less pleased. Worse still, his current girlfriend is Meg, the real estate agent who met Diana’s attempts at goofy, ice-breaking humour with snobbish froideur.

Excruciating encounters ensue. Flashbacks walk through the inception and disintegration of Diana and Ben’s relationship and a messy muddle of feelings.

Post-mumblecore

The screenplay of this post-mumblecore, millennial When Harry Met Sally trades on good humour and scarlet-making awkward situations. Mamet, the daughter of playwright David Mamet, maintains a delicate comic touch throughout Sophie Brooks’s wonderfully observed relationship two-step.

Her expressive, charmingly quizzical features combine the cocked-head cuteness of a momentarily confused puppy and dark, dramatic eyebrows that seem to double-down on Frida Kahlo’s uni.