Director: Adam Bowers
Cast: Adam Bowers, Jayme Ratzer, Valerie Jones, Toby Turner
Plot: Wendell (Bowers) is unlucky with love, until he takes a chance on Vicky (Ratzer), an unpredictable, fun bartender. However, soon he wants more from his life and thinks that the love of his life could be holding him back.
Directed, written and starring Adam Bowers as the lead, New Low tells the story of a man constantly thinking the grass is greener on the other side. He is incredibly awkward around ladies, but somehow lucks out and manages to get into a relationship with unpredictable slacker, Vicky, who’s hobbies include searching trash cans and art galleries for free food. However, Wendell gets bored and realises his life is destined for more. Therefore, he leaves her for good-hearted volunteer, Joanna, who makes Wendell a better person. However, Joanna comes with her own problems. She keeps Wendell busy and he is constantly trying to impress her by getting himself into situations he really isn’t cut out for. A chance meeting with ex-girlfriend, Vicky, reminds him of the laid-back fun they had together and he begins to suspect that he could have made a massive mistake leaving her.
This is easily the most hipster movie I have ever watched. As soon as it opens up, you realise that it has been filmed on an affordable camcorder. I am not saying this is a bad thing; in fact, there are times, when I admired the authentic feel to the movie. I just felt like I was watching a student feature film. It has the familiar tells. The main one is that the extras aren’t quite up to the same level of casting as the leads. Perhaps they are talented actors, but they have obviously been bribed with free food and drink to spend their afternoon in a room, quoting lines that they were given on the day. Another tell is the use of talking heads. While the script was really good and kept the action well-paced, the scenes are rarely any more than two characters sitting, or walking around a set-piece, speaking exposition. I have never noticed it as a problem in student films before, because they are usually no longer than twenty minutes. When you are given a 90 minute feature film of these scenes, though, it does begin to drag in the second half.
But if you can look past the common flaws of an Independent film, New Low is a charming film. The four leads are fun to spend time with and keep the spark going. Adam Bowers has a natural flair for that awkward, bumbling comedy that Michael Cera does well, but he did write the script, suggesting that his performance was totally on his terms. It doesn’t necessarily mean he would be as effective elsewhere. Jayme Ratzner puts in a very good performance too, especially seeing as her character is weakly-written at times. She seems like the stereotypical Hipster girl, unconventional in any way. This is usually fine, but there never was really any explanation for why she was so out there. She would just jump from loveable one moment to uncontrollably angry the next. Ratzner keeps it on track, but you wish the story would help her out. Valerie Jones has the most boring character of Joanna, but another actress could have made her character annoying, so you have to respect what Jones does. Best of all is Youtube personality, Toby Turner, more commonly known as Tobuscus. He steals the best jokes, while essentially not being too involved in the plot. He doesn’t really affect the story in any way, which is a shame, because his energy and charisma keeps his scenes going a lot of the time. Turner is sometimes guilty of over-acting and trying too hard to win a laugh, but New Low sees the actor go for a more refined style of joking, which made me appreciate his addition to the story much more.
I think New Low’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t really cover much new ground. Sure, it has a nice, Independent feel to it, but when you look at the story as a story, it is essentially the age old tale of an awkward guy choosing between two girls. And while the actors all do a good job, they don’t really have the presence that comes with being an experienced actor. We have seen Jesse Eisenberg and Jonah Hill do this and their movies were a little better and a more worthwhile watch. The story does try and go with an alternative ending to this love story, and while it was a nice change of pace, this is covered in the last five minutes, which doesn’t really qualify it as a new take on the romance genre.
Final Verdict: While nothing new, New Low is remarkably likeable for an Independent project with a micro-budget. A rom-com for the hipsters.