Adrift in Manhattan


Memo to indie directors: Tales of the cold, dark city that throb with loneliness haven’t been original fare since, oh, the dawn of the industrial age. That’s not to say that modern New Yorkers aren’t lonely, or that you can’t build a movie around urban alienation, but I will go out on a limb and say that you can’t build a movie around lingering, soulful shots of the No. 1 train zooming up and down the West Side. There’s no there there. What Adrift in Manhattan does possess in spades, if not insight or innovation, is human misery. Our young protagonist, Simon (Victor Rasuk), has a face like a closed fist and a mother with serious boundary issues. He becomes secretly obsessed with Rose (Heather Graham), a wealthy optometrist with a deep, dark secret of her own, one that even the most obtuse viewer will immediately discern. Meanwhile, Rose is treating Tommaso (Dominic Chianese), an amateur painter who is going blind and has no family or friends to help him out. There’s such a surfeit of sorrow here—incest, disability, death—that our characters’ tragedies quickly feel quotidian, and we yearn for the spice of an ordinary sunny day.