LFF 2017: The Boy Downstairs Does Romantic Comedy With A Twist

Photo: Altitude 

We all know the Girl Next Door, but now it’s time for you to meet The Boy Downstairs.

Most of our favorite romantic comedies start off the same: boy meets girl. In Sophie Brooks’ debut, The Boy Downstairs musician Ben (Matthew Shear) meets writer Diana (Zosia Mamet), but things go South when Diana moves to London. That is where their love story would end if this was your typical run-of-the-mil romance movie. Or maybe Ben would follow her and propose to her in the most over-the-top way imaginable. This movie, however, is different.

Four years after their gut-wrenching break-up, Diana returns to New York City with a first draft of her novel and a lot of hopes and dreams. She reunites with her best friend Gaby (Diana Irvine), finds work in a bridal store, moves into a snazzy one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, and befriends the quirky landlady Amy (Deirdre O’Connor). Things take a surprising turn when she meets her downstairs neighbor: ex-boyfriend Ben.

The Boy Downstairs follows Diana and Ben’s relationship on two parallel levels. Not only do we witness the two of them become reacquainted with having each other in their lives, if accidentally so. In chronological flashbacks, we also see how they first fell in love – from an awkward first date and meddling friends to meeting each other’s parents. But what do you do when the one person you can’t avoid, the one person you can’t stop thinking about, has moved on?

Where The Boy Downstairs could easily take you on a wild ride and depict yet another whirlwind romance that is fueled by passion more than by honest affection, it doesn’t. What it does present its audience with, is a realistic and adult relationship. Grand romantic gestures or over-dramatic speeches seem inadequate when the biggest obstacle in Ben and Diana’s relationship is not a love triangle or rivaling families, but just simply life.

Unfortunate timing, important life decisions, and personal circumstances are the very realistic challenges that they face in their relationship, which makes it all the more interesting to watch.

Both Zosia Mamet and Matthew Shear deliver great performances that severely tug on your heart-strings. Minor characters such as Amy or Gaby deliver the necessary humor to make The Boy Downstairs an overall enjoyable first feature in the tone of Like Crazy or Celeste and Jesse Forever.

The Boy Downstairs will be screened for general audiences Saturday October 14th , and Sunday October 15th at the BFI London Film Fest. For more information visit the official BFI website. The movie is scheduled for a UK/Ireland release in Spring 2018.

Verena Cote
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