Northeast ‘s Anonymous Souls Wander an Anonymous City


A bland aimlesssness characterizes both Northeast’s lead character and the film itself. In Gregory Kohn’s fatally underdeveloped study of twentysomething anomie, Will (David Call) flits through Brooklyn from one woman to the next while hanging out with friends who are marginally less directionless than he is. Taking up bike riding, dating an older woman, and embarking on a trip to the country fail to rouse Will from his stupor, a point that Kohn makes by cutting together close-ups of the character’s face as he walks through the anonymous, smudgy city late in the film. This penchant on the director’s part for blurred-background close-ups (generally taken with a handheld camera) is perfectly representative of his non-interest in any specific details, either geographical or personal. With only a pair of subway platform shots and a stroll under the BQE to identify the location, the film evinces no concern with evoking a specific place, only a rather insipidly presented mood—the geographical broadness of the title is a giveaway. More damaging, though, is its nearly complete disinterest in treating its character as anything but a blank figure on which the audience is called upon to project its own sense of alienation.

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