In his sleek and accomplished debut film, writer-director Chris Mason Johnson tracks the lives and loves of a cadre of 29-year-old Manhattan college friends who betray themselves and each other by abusing the Big Three-sex, money, and drugs. At the center is Andrew (Ryan Locke), a lean, blond alpha-dog investment banker whose beautiful Asian fiancee (Nicole Bilderback) may be his match in the world of business. Among those circling this golden couple are Ben (Colin Fickes), who’s gay, overweight, and addicted to online sex sites (there’s a great moment when a trick comes over to Ben’s apartment and the two men reject each other on sight), as well as the drug-addicted Felix (Thomas Sadoski) and commitment-phobic Tony (Andrew Wei Lin). We have been here many times before (see 1966’s The Group), but Johnson and co-writer Ishmael Chawla have a light touch that keeps things from turning overly melodramatic. (No vases get thrown.) Supported by veteran New York actors such as Terry Serpico and Bill Sage, the strong ensemble of young actors create fully defined personas, thanks in large part to their director’s willingness to linger after a dramatic peak and observe the characters in private, take-a-breath moments. He’s got something, this guy, and although I’m surely overpraising The New Twenty, I’d hate to see a movie this ethnically and sexually diverse fade away on today’s dead-end gay release circuit. After all, for better or worse, every generation deserves its own St. Elmo’s Fire.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 18, 2009