The title refers to the tides on which people move in and out of each other’s lives, and the constant, maybe futile hope that there will be a perfect, mutually beneficial opportunity… Emily Yoshida, Vulture, regarding Golden Exits
‘Love, jealousy and deficiency’ would make a fitting alternate title for ‘Golden Exits,’ the latest from the writer-director Alex Ross Perry. These words are spoken fairly late in the movie, which traces the emotional and psychological architecture of two intersecting groups of men and women. For the most part, they make an absurdly comic, at times pitifully narcissistic assembly — you laugh at them and then you cringe. White and mostly comfortably middle-class or bourgeois adjacent, they have nice homes, jobs and people they love and some they scarcely tolerate. They also have a lot of time to talk about themselves and their discontent, which eats at some and all but consumes others.
Elizabeth Weitzman, The Wrap, on a key premise every critic points out:
‘I feel like people never make films about ordinary people who don’t really do anything,’ sighs…Naomi (Emily Browning…), and she has arrived in Brooklyn from Australia only to find herself fetishized by a group of ordinary people who don’t really do anything.
More about the plot and some key characters from Weitzman:
Nick [Adam Horovitz] is an archivist, currently tasked with making sense of his father-in-law’s life. His wife, Alyssa (Chloë Sevigny), wants to believe that he hired Naomi for her skills, but Alyssa’s sister Gwen (Mary-Louise Parker) is skeptical. And rightfully so: not only does Nick have a vaguely referenced history of infidelity, but he almost immediately shows up at Naomi’s door drunk, at night, wheedling for some company.
Of special interest to this blog is Alyssa’s occupation. As described by Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, she’s “a morose therapist who hasn’t forgotten or forgiven her husband’s earlier dalliances.”
Rounding out the main cast of characters are Buddy (Jason Schwartzman), his wife Jess (Analeigh Tipton), and Jess’s sister Sam (Lily Rabe).
Richard Brody, New Yorker, on the themes of Golden Exits:
…a story of sibling rivalries and family heritage (artistic and material), of fragile marriages and bitter solitude, of solidarity and betrayal, of the possibilities of youth and the limits of encroaching middle age, of work as passion and work as burden, of the intimate relationships that develop through work, that nourish work, and that threaten work. It’s also the story of a small business—akin to a low-budget production office—which the tangled web of personal and professional connections turns into a splitting nucleus of emotional fury.
Maybe the music is one of the film’s best features, notes Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter, who isn’t the only critic to notice:
As you wait patiently — or perhaps you don’t — for something to actually happen, it slowly dawns that, as is often true in books but not in films, what’s really happening lies not in physical action but in the clogged but still beating hearts of all the characters. And it’s left to DeWitt’s brilliant score to expose all this. You barely notice the music at first, so discreetly is it layered onto the soundtrack. But it’s there, almost constantly, quietly roiling and churning, ebbing and flowing in an exceptionally beautiful way that becomes more noticeable with time but never distracts or calls attention to itself. It’s hard to think of another recent example of a strictly instrumental score that was so intrinsically linked to the artistic essence of a film.
You can see the trailer for Golden Exits below: