Golden Exits was the 8th film I saw this year at Sundance, starting off my last day watching the films. This movie is written and directed by Alex Ross Perry and stars Emily Browning as a young woman, Naomi, who moves to New York City for a summer job under Adam Horowitz‘ character Nick. Nick has had a history of being unfaithful to his wife Alyssa, played by Chloe Sevigny, and thus Alyssa’s arrival sets many things in motion not just for Nick and Alyssa, but for Jason Schwartzman‘s character as well, who also has a crush on Naomi. Guess what? Yes, he’s also in a committed relationship. The film is full of drama between characters that escalates but ultimately, doesn’t lead anywhere at all. This film contains a line that summarizes what I think is the theme of the film: “Nobody writes movies about normal people who don’t do anything.” If you’re into a celebration of the mundane, then this film may be for you. It was not for me.
As I’ll always say, judge a movie for yourself before you take my word for anything. That being said, I thought that the main characters were uninteresting, the comical relief characters were annoying, and everybody else either too bland or too ridiculous… and I’m not sure what the point of the story was. It didn’t seem like anything changed from start to finish and I wasn’t sure how the characters grew at all because it didn’t seem like they changed. I didn’t find this film humorous or dramatic in any way that it tried to be and I enjoyed very little of this film as a whole. I can tie this all back to the line of dialogue I quoted earlier; this very much seems to be a movie about normal people who don’t do anything and it all made for a very drab film in its entirety. Don’t get me wrong: there are still things to enjoy in the film, like Emily Browning and Jason Schwartzman (playing Buddy), but those are the only two elements that I liked. More specifically, the only two elements that I didn’t not like.
I’m a king of suspending disbelief and going into a movie with zero expectations, and so I was into the film at first, laughing at the line of dialogue that I mentioned earlier and interested in the characters’ situations. But then something happened. Actually, no… nothing happened. And that was the problem. We have Naomi, a cute innocent woman who involuntarily and inadvertently causes two men to become unfaithful to their significant others. We don’t like the men because they’re pigs, and we pity the women who are stuck with these men because they’re being lied to. Nick’s sister-in-law is a terribly obnoxious and rude character and really annoyed me every chance that she got, and his guy friends who throw him a birthday party are even more intolerable. Really, I had no fun with the film and all of the jokes were as dry as the story throughout, and if it wasn’t for Browning as the saving grace, I would have simply left the theater without ever looking back.
One aesthetic element that I enjoy in some cases but was mixed on in this was the overall grainy texture that the film expressed. In some films, it works, but here it just looked out of focus and under-produced as if there was still some editing to be done. I don’t feel good about just trashing this film because I’ve worked on short films and they were painstaking projects and to have somebody comment anything but praise hurts. So, yeah, I feel like an asshole for saying all of these negative things but life is short and I love film so you win some you lose some, right? Overall, I did not have a great time with Golden Exits because of almost every aspect, namely how boring and uneventful I found it, how dislikable every character was, and how bland the drama and humor was in the story. Nothing changed from beginning to end and nothing happened in between, either. I can’t say that I’ll watch it ever again and I’m going to have to give this film a red recommendation and a 3/10. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!