Golden Exits (2017)

  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Alex Ross Perry
  • Cast: Emily Browning, Analeigh Tipton, Chloë Sevigny


An intersectional narrative of two families in Brooklyn and the unraveling of unspoken unhappiness that occurs when a young foreign girl spending time abroad upsets the balance on both sides.

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  • “People don’t really make films about ordinary people who don’t do anything,” Naomi remarks near the start of Golden Exits. Of course, that’s not entirely true. Taking inspiration from the great Eric Rohmer, whose films made magic out of the mundane, writer-director Alex Ross Perry’s latest work is, on the surface, very much about ordinary people who don’t do anything.

    There’s Naomi (Emily Browning), an Australian student recently arrived in New York, first seen singing “New York Groove” as she’s sitting on the steps of a brownstone in the sun-dappled, tree-lined streets of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The scene is slightly deceptive, her crooning begins to take on an incantatory quality, and one soon senses that she may be the snake to disrupt this particular paradise. “Do I need to be worried about Naomi?” Alyssa (Chloë Sevigny) asks her husband Nick (Adam Horowitz), who has employed Naomi to assist him in archiving the estate of Alyssa’s father. It’s immediately clear that their marriage has already been disrupted – there are mentions of his past bad behaviour and, whilst he appears to have moved past that roadblock in their marriage, Alyssa is still nursing her wounds.

    Alyssa may have cause for concern. Not only is Naomi spending most of the days working with Nick in his cramped basement office, but she’s living down the street from them. It’s only a matter of time before the pathetically tempted Nick takes advantage of the situation. Meanwhile, Naomi enters the orbit of another married man: Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), a sound technician and distant family friend obliged to meet her at the prodding of his mother. Though he sets boundaries with the smitten Naomi, the way he downplays his get-togethers with her to his sweet-natured wife Jess (Analeigh Tipton) raises some suspicion.

    Shot by Perry’s regular cinematographer Sean Price Williams in 16mm and blessed with a remarkably penetrating and perceptive score by Keegan DeWitt, Golden Exits is possessed with an air of tranquil enchantment that belies the desires, neuroses and frustrations that roil within most of its characters. Some viewers may find the characters off-puttingly navel-gazing, but those same viewers can’t deny neither Perry’s directorial precision nor his actors’ exemplary performances. Former Beastie Boy Horovitz continues to surprise as an actor, perfectly embodying infantile obliviousness. Sevigny portrays Alyssa’s anxious resignation with tremendous depth, resulting in one of her best performances. Browning navigates a tricky character with ease, somehow rendering Naomi both a beguiling and insidious presence. Then there is Mary-Louise Parker, who steals the entire film with her fearsomely corrosive portrayal of Alyssa’s sister Gwen.

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