SXSW Film Review: The New Romantic

Love reconsidered in the age of swiping and sugar daddies

Although probably not a Taylor Swift reference, Carly Stone’s debut indie comedy The New Romantic is a charming and sweet film about a young woman owning her sexuality in a swipe-right-or-left world.

Jessica Barden (recently seen in Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World) plays Blake Conway, an aspiring journalist in college who is trying to pitch her “unique” love life to her news editor. The problem is she doesn’t really have one. She goes on dates that usually end in pecks on the cheek rather than steamy nights back at her apartment, which makes for dull reading.

Things change drastically for Blake, though, when her ID gets accidentally swapped at a liquor store with Morgan’s (Camila Mendes, Riverdale), a sugar baby who is given gifts and cash in exchange for sex. Seeing a potential article in her wake, Blake befriends Morgan, which leads her to sparking her own beneficial relationship with a professor.

With The New Romantic, Stone doesn’t emphasize the scandal of the relationship. Rather, she weaves through Blake’s complex desires. A child of divorce, romance is an idea that seems alien to her. The key is that Stone doesn’t write sex as either a superficial transaction, nor as an act that will lead to incredible emotional attachment. Blake navigates the morally vague world of being a sugar baby with complete control over her body and needs, which is what makes The New Romantic utterly genuine.

Dash in a few cinephile references to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Sleepless in Seattle, and you have a perfectly endearing small-budget film perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons.

The New Romantic

Narrative Feature Competition
Wednesday, March 14, 2pm, Alamo Lamar E

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SXSW Film 2018, Carly Stone, The New Romantic

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