Ramshackle and boisterous, like a hastily thrown-together party, Brooklyn filmmaker Robert Sarnoff’s newest film documents the decades-old friendship between the director and his group of boyhood friends. Now calling themselves the ROMEOWS—for “Retired Older Men Eating Out Wednesdays”—the group dines together every week, gleefully needling each other and reliving their collective youth, particularly their years at Brooklyn College (they’re class of ’59). The camera cuts in and out, giving the sense not of a series of conversations but of one long jaw session that started when cars had fins. In the individual interviews shuffled throughout, the men recognize the importance of their weekly group dinners in their lives, several crediting the tradition with maintaining their vitality. The camerawork is casual almost to the point of sloppiness: Shots are framed, reframed, abandoned, and resumed. No matter. Artistry isn’t the business of this film, and neither, to any great extent, is grasping the details of the anecdotes these men tell; like any meal, it’s the flavor that matters. There’s no dramatic throughline; after an hour of scenes shot in 2009—at Nathan’s in Coney Island, at a Chinese restaurant, at their 50th class reunion—we leap ahead to 2012, and the group seems largely unchanged. Yet if the film lacks momentum, it’s still an hour or so spent among people who obviously love one another. In such company, who would quibble with the cook?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2013