Take a Drink: for false sincerity
Take a Drink: for passive aggression
Take a Drink: “300 years ago”
Take a Drink: for helplessness and life skills failures
Do a Shot: when you spot Caucasian Mindy Lahiri
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Comedies about developmentally stunted, deceptively well off, almost endearingly clueless young Brooklynites have proven fruitful the last several years, ranging from bittersweet scale of Noah Baumbach’s Francis Ha and While We’re Young to HBO’s smash Girls to entire festivals’ worth of features from the rapidly gentrifying borough itself.
How Adam Driver isn’t in all of these is a mystery.
Fort Tilden falls into that last category, capturing top honors at SXSW and springing from the pen and directorial talents of native New Yorkers Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. The film covers a roughly 24 hour period in which two young rich girls “making it on their own” decide to trek out to Fort Tilden beach to try to get with a couple good/vapid-looking young men they met at an acoustic jam the night before.
While most certainly in the same register of Girls (if you hate those characters, you’re gonna haaattee these two), Fort Tilden is both lighter, and, somehow, far meaner. Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty both do excellent work as two entitled children trapped in post-college bodies who are just skirting the edge of self-awareness as to how little they contribute to, well, anything. As a series of transportation mishaps and general idiotic decisions draw them out of their cute, moneyed-up enclave of Brooklyn and into parts that Spike Lee would be more familiar with, they begin to show the deep vulnerabilities and utter lack of direction underlying their sarcastic, aloof exteriors.
Brooklyn, for the rest of us.
Bliss and Rogers’ script is very cleverly structured without appearing to be so on the surface, full of sharp, funny dialogue and a world of small touches revealing these two’s personalities and the greater facade of artificial smiles and poseur behavior (like leaving a barely touched copy of Infinite Jest conspicuously out in case they bring these two guys back home) that appear to make up much of their day to day lives. Most laudable, though, is how these two are not afraid to let their characters not learn anything, to not grow much if at all from beginning to end, except maybe how shitty they really are, and how, deep down, they don’t really care.
At least they can start being honest with themselves…
The filmmakers can let a joke or verbal exercise go on a bit too long a la an Adam McKay comedy- sometimes it’s best to cut when the returns start to diminish. Also, one major plot point is one of the girls’ impending departure for the Peace Corps, but it’s obvious that Bliss and Rogers couldn’t be bothered to do any research on their actual onboarding process. Expect raised eyebrows aplenty if you’re an RPCV, or even just know one.
Fort Tilden is an acerbic, keenly observed, and not a little infuriating little film that also happens to be funny as hell.