Golden Exits (R)

Drama 94 min. February 9, 2018
By Danny King
With Golden Exits, Alex Ross Perry's latest, the writer-director of such tightly focused studies as Listen Up Philip (2014) and Queen of Earth (2015) has made a through-and-through ensemble piece, one in which the emotional explosiveness comes not from a couple of principals but an expansive cluster of characters. The Brooklyn setting -- all plant-suffused offices, invitingly uncrowded bars and homily embroidered living rooms -- is as cloistered and contained as the bohemian New York of Philip or the tense upstate lake house of Earth.

But this time the characters, and their attendant connections, just keep piling up, each of them bursting with internal furies that they struggle to keep hidden. This galaxy of people overlaps in a minute geographical pocket, leading Golden Exits to burn with a feeling of immense smallness. The characters talk extensively about what matters to them rather than what matters to the plot, exposing themselves, sharing the worries that keep them up at night. One scene literally opens on someone casually asking a sibling, with reference to nothing in particular, "So, what's the fear?" an almost unfathomable can-of-worms query that doesn't lend itself to a dramatic encounter of predictable shape. That's not a bad thing. The more microscopic and incidental the movie gets -- as in this candlelit conversation -- the grander its cumulative force becomes.

The springtime story, as small as a long-forgotten anecdote, traces just a few months and a couple of blocks. The catalyst is the outsider: Naomi (Emily Browning), a 25-year-old Australian in town on a work visa, but it's Analeigh Tipton's soft-spoken, understated Jess who emerges as the movie's beating heart.
Alex Ross Perry Emily Browning, Analeigh Tipton, Mary-Louise Parker, Chloë Sevigny, Jason Schwartzman Alex Ross Perry Vertical Entertainment

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