SXSW 2018: The New Romantic

Jessica Barden is Blake Conway in THE NEW ROMANTIC. Photo Credit: New Romantic Inc.

The post-college fears are as real as ever in Carly Stone’s feature directorial debut, The New Romantic.

How far would somebody go if it means taking home a journalism award that comes with a nice cash prize to boot?  This is the task at hand for college senior Blake Conway (Jessica Barden).  She’s writing for the school newspaper but with her being a hopeless romantic, the interest in her columns just isn’t what it used to be.  It’s enough that her editor at The Observer, Matt (Avan Jogia), makes the striking decision to kill the column.

“Romance is dead,” Blake remarks after her column gets killed.  She decides to spice up her life try try and distract herself from never-ending student loans that come with graduating.  There’s also the romance factor.  The fear of ending up alone is real.  Blake decides–and confides in her editor–to write about her experiences of being a sugar baby–instead of having a classic romantic relationship, a young woman enters a relationship in exchange for money or gifts).  It’s not just the issues of judging the people that decide to go this route for a relationship but Blake has her own issues to deal with.

It’s a solid feature debut for director/screenwriter Carly Stone.  With the film’s focus on sugar babies, it’s great that a female wrote and directed the film.  A man could write the film but it wouldn’t come off in the same way that Stone and capture the interest of viewers.  It’s her first feature so Stone has some room to grow going forward.

The film casts a lot of faces from the CW, which shouldn’t be a surprise given that the premise of post-college fears is one that is ideal for younger viewers.  The film gives actress Jessica Barden (The End of the F***ing World) an opportunity to take on a role that she hasn’t typically performed in the past.   The talented actress is more than awesome in the role.  With the Netflix series and this film, she’s got a real opportunity to show some growth as an actress.  Riverdale‘s Hayley Law and Camila Mendes in the cast as is former Jane the Virgin cast member Brett Dier.  Strangely enough, this isn’t the only film playing SXSW to explore the topic–the other being Emma Seligman’s short comedy film, Shiva Baby.

The New Romantic is more than a movie about journalism.  It’s about the decisions we face as we confront our fears while growing up.

CAST:  Jessica Barden, Hayley Law, Brett Dier, Timm Sharp, Avan Jogia, and Camila Mendes

An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, The New Romantic premieres as a part of the Narrative Feature Competition.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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