The New Romantic (2018) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Romantic comedies work for me. Of course, if you’re a regular reader of Berkreviews.com, you know this already. The New Romantic pays homage to some of the great rom-coms and movies in general that have come before it, while paving the way for a more modern take on the genre. Directed by Carly Stone, this film weaves a story with a solid cast that is funny while dealing with the concept of Sugar Babies, a topic I knew almost nothing about, and the potential emotional consequences it could entail.

The New Romantic is a lot of fun with something to say about the modern world of dating

Blake (Jessica Barden) is a humanities major with a romance column in her college newspaper. She is looking for romance from the men she dates, and Tinder just isn’t offering her up suitable opportunities. When her editor threatens to pull her column for it being too dull, she finds herself looking for inspiration. A chance run-in with a Sugar Baby opens up a doorway to more readers and a potential romantic experience she can’t just turn her back on.

Let’s start by saying Jessica Barden and Hayley Law need a sitcom written for them right now. They are college roommates, and some of the funniest moments come from the two of them being on screen together. Their chemistry is great, and they genuinely felt like best friends. Law’s fairly dry delivery of her slightly aggressive dialogue made her extremely funny and endearing. There is a part where she gets so happy with what is happening to Barden’s character that she does this tiny applause and it’s adorably funny. Definitely a major highlight of the film.

Barden has the screen presence of a megastar in the making. She’s charming, and is definitely able to lead the story and craft a character with lots of complexity in her performance. There is a moment that is a direct recreation of a scene from an iconic rom-com, and she nails the homage to her performance. While she is able to deliver the comedy and charm, she’s also able to convey heartbreak in such a natural way that you’ll likely find your own heart breaking. It was truly an engaging film that was pretty much pure joy to watch.

The unique element of this film was the Sugar Baby plot line: the idea is that a woman or a man is in a non-committed relationship with an individual in exchange for gifts. It is far more structured and doesn’t necessarily involve sex, but is clearly going to draw comparisons to prostitution. The film does attempt to enter into this debate, and it seems to choose a side at one point in the film. It isn’t the sole focus, but it is a major element to Blake’s journey.

Final thoughts…

When The New Romantic is available for wide release, it is one to check out. There is a lot to enjoy about the movie, and it does discuss the current dating landscape. Is romance dead in the year 2018? The New Romantic seems to think so, but maybe there is hope out there. It earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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