The comedy in Fort Tilden is grounded in the grim principle that people are incapable of change — its characters’ ultimate epiphany is embracing stasis. Best friends Allie and Harper ditch their responsibilities and spend an entire day attempting to travel from Williamsburg to the beach at Fort Tilden, where they’re planning to hook up with the same guy.
Myopic and self-obsessed, they observe the world passively, as though it’s projected on a screen rather than something that might be actively engaged with. Detached, they stand inside a boutique watching a kid on the street who’s obviously preparing to steal their bikes, dithering about it until it’s too late.
Nearly broke, Harper spends the day writing checks she hopes won’t be quickly cashed. Allie, about to join the Peace Corps, is dodging calls from her placement officer. Here, the film hits a plateau: Her agonizing over this shirked responsibility goes on way longer than it should without resolution, but she has no idea where she’s going in life, let alone how to travel across Queens.
Their phones have GPS, but the ill-suited stars by which these two navigate are their petty judgments, flash impressions, and impending separation. Allie and Harper are basically unlikable, but played with a light touch and just enough distance from their own unthinking cruelty to remain funny. Basically, the characters are at a crossroads between a logical progression toward sociopathy or actually deepening as human beings by acquiring empathy. But they’ll never realize it.
Directed by Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers
Opens August 14, IFC Center
Available on demand