Dating & New York, the Jonah Feingold film that premiered during Tribeca in June, takes a fairy tale approach to the romantic comedy genre.
Not many people can say they hit a home run with their debut feature but this is the case with Jonah Feingold. Feingold knew he wanted to be a filmmaker when he first saw Hook. If you notice, the film’s score pays homage to the Peter Pan film during one of the restaurant scenes. But Hook isn’t the only film that inspired Feingold. No, When Harry Met Sally plays a big role, too. When making a rom-com, you can’t go wrong with being influenced by Nora Ephron. Fairy tales and rom-coms kind of go hand in hand–after all, look at the many animated Disney films about princesses looking for their Prince Charming!
Milo Marks (Jaboukie Young-White) and Wendy Brinkley (Francesca Reale) meet each other in this dating app-era rom-com. They both of their own jaded views of what love is. But after their first date, they don’t bother getting in touch with each other. It’s not until another party when technology decides that fate has another destiny. Can they be Best Friends with Benefits or will their feelings start getting in the way? And what happens if or when they do? The film plays along traditional genre beats but I love the freshness that Feingold brings to the screenplay. Jaboukie Young-White and Francesca Reale are very capable in their leading performances and I look forward to seeing what their work brings in the future.
Catherine Cohen and Brian Muller are outstanding in their supporting roles as Jessie and Hank, respectively. Life has a funny way of working out–Hank is Milo’s best friend and Jessie is Wendy’s. Call it fate or whatever. Saturday Night Live‘s Alex Moffat as a minor role but makes the most of it. However, it’s Jerry Ferrara who brings his storybook voice as the film’s narrator.
Technology has a way of changing things and not just filmmaking. How we meet people for romance happens through dating apps rather than only attending singles events in person. It used to be that you broke up with someone in person and now it’s as easy as sending a text message. Breaking up by text shows how classless someone can be but that’s a story for another day. If you took a time machine back to the 1940s or 1950s and told them what present day romantic comedies looked like, they’d laugh in your face!
During the Tribeca Q&A in June, Feingold commented that the film was like When Harry Met Sally but the the score of the 1950s Disney movies and the camera blocking of His Girl Friday. That’s not a bad crop of films if you ask me. You can never go wrong with Howard Hawks either! One can make the argument that Dating & New York is a love letter to Hollywood past. Of course, it’s also a film where New York City plays a central role as a character. New York might feel like a cliché but this film could only work there. You can certainly set a rom-com anywhere but this one could only be set in NYC.
This is a film that–from what I can tell–shares a cinematographer, editor, and a pair of co-producers with Shiva Baby. However, the two features couldn’t be more different in tone. It’s a credit to cinematographer Maria Rusche and editor Hanna Park when it comes to their work. Jonah Feingold’s script and vision, too. This is the beauty of filmmaking!
Dating & New York may have an old-school flavor but that’s one of the beautiful things to enjoy about an instant classic of this nature.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Jonah Feingold
CAST: Jaboukie Young-White, Francesca Reale, Catherine Cohen, Brian Muller, Jerry Ferrara, Eva Victor, Yedoye Travis, Sondra James, Sohina Sidhu, Alex Moffat, and Arturo Castro