‘The Boy Downstairs’
- Written and Directed by: Sophie Brooks
- Starring: Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Deidre O’Connell, Sarah Ramon, Diana Irvine
What happens when you discover you’re living in the same building as your ex? That’s the situation that Zosia Mamet’s Diana finds herself in Sophie Brooks’ ‘The Boy Downstairs’.
Set in New York, the film follows Diana as she moves to a new apartment building that just so happens to also be where her ex-boyfriend Ben, played by Matthew Shear, lives. Diana is an aspiring writer who works in a wedding dress store where she’s constantly greeted with loved-up brides.
Initially, Diana seems ready for the change of scenery in her new apartment (which also gave us serious #ApartmentEnvy). That is until she comes across Ben’s name on the postbox and is the exact moment her world comes crashing down.
Having spent three years apart, it’s the realisation of “what could have been” from Diana that sees her continuously finding excuses to bump into Ben in one place or another. It’s this scenario where Mamet is given the chance to show off her acting capabilities. Having already impressed us as Shoshanna Shapiro in Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’, it’s about time that Mamet has the chance to shine and she is the star of the show here. As Diana, she is able to play out the vulnerability, confusion, and fear that comes with a relationship – especially one that has already played out. Her scene-stealing comes at the expense of co-star Matthew Shear, who always plays ends up playing second fiddle. Whilst Ben is likeable, we never really care too much about him and its always Diana we’re paying attention to in scenes of the pair together.
When it comes to supporting characters, it seems a little bit unfair to complain about the amount of screen time given to such roles, but Diana Irvine as Diana’s best friend, Gabby, and Deirdre O’Connell’s Amy both feel severely underused considering the talent behind each character. Irvine’s Gabby is given a romantic subplot which ultimately goes nowhere and both characters serve really as a way to set the story up. It’s a shame both characters pretty much get forgotten as both roles have lots of promise initially. O’Connell in particular shines immediately on screen in her role as Amy.
Back to Diana and Ben. Their relationship is romantic, sure, if a little on the cheesy side. Their past relationship is told through flashbacks, which works initially but then becomes a bit muddy. Flipping between a mere three years means most locations look the same, as do hairstyles and outfit choices, which makes identifying if we’re in the past or present a little confusing midway through the film. Their love story isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but Mamet’s charm makes it work. Diana is relatable, even if her scenario is unlikely to ever play out in real-life in the same way.
So, the verdict? ‘The Boy Downstairs’ is a sweet and endearing flick, with a stellar performance from Mamet. That’s not to say it’s perfect, it’s far from it. It’s cute if a little fluffy around the edges. Whilst there are humorous moments, as well as Mamet’s brilliant comedic timing, the film could do with a little bit more humour to counterbalance the sometimes sickly-sweet to-and-fro of Diana and Ben, but fans of a good old romantic movie will find something to enjoy here.
For Sophie Brooks directorial and writing debut, ‘The Boy Downstairs’ is an impressive and delightful first movie done on a small-scale which just whets the appetite for what could be to come from her as her career progresses. Also, one request, can Zosia Mamet just be cast in everything please?
‘The Boy Downstairs’ is released in UK and Irish cinemas on 8th June 2018.