When the "Meet Cute" is a Gruesome Accident: The High Cost of Living


The High Cost of Living
Directed by Deborah Chow
Tribeca Film
Opens September 9, Tribeca Cinemas

Panicked that she might be in labor at 34 weeks, Montrealer Nathalie (Isabelle Blais) tries to flag a cab from the middle of the street and gets herself run over by scruffy, low-rent drug pusher Henry, played by a head-smackingly miscast Zach Braff. But that's only half true: Deborah Chow's ridiculously implausible yet still predictable tale of guilt and redemption is so bipolar in tone that when it's not a more linear rip-off of Guillermo Arriaga's grim and gritty melodramas (21 Grams, Babel), it's the kind of quirky indie romance that made Braff's name. "I got you Indian, Italian or poutine," the oh-so-thoughtful-and-charming Henry offers his unexpected new houseguest Nathalie, who is apparently too distraught to piece together how this secretly remorseful guardian angel has weaseled his way into her life after tossing his teenage neighbor under a bus for the hit-and-run. Blais fares far better in her tragic victimization than Braff does as the scumbag with an inexplicable heart of gold, but if there's potential poignancy in Henry touching Nathalie's stillborn belly while she sleeps, that's laughed off the screen when the pair try on novelty hats in public to the sounds of Deerhunter, the faux-edgy analogue to Garden State's twee soundtrack.

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