7 March 2010 | Buddy-51
imperfect but promise-filled debut effort
Seven years after graduation, five buddies from college - four men and a woman, all living in New York City - face the grim prospect of turning thirty. Andrew (Ryan Locke) is an investment banker who's just gotten engaged to his long time girlfriend, Julie (Nicole Bilderback), who works for a rival firm (he's Morgan, she's Merrill); Felix (Thomas Sadoski) is a drug addict who's struggling to hide his condition from his friends as well as maintain a relationship with a fellow user; Ben (Colin Fickes) is an unattractive, overweight gay man who can't get anyone to go out with him; and Tony (Andrew Wei Lin) is an attractive, fit gay man who falls for a college professor with HIV. All five have reached that critical point where's it's time to start taking stock of their lives - to find out where they are and, more importantly, where they're headed.
"The New Twenty" is the debut feature for writer/director Chris Mason Johnson and, while the hand of the novice is evident in certain aspects of the movie, Johnson also reveals some real potential as a filmmaker. The relationships among the various characters are, for the most part, unusual and interesting, regardless of whether they are personal or business-related in nature. The storytelling can be a bit choppy at times and the acting occasionally uneven, but there are enough moments of genuine insight and emotional force to make the movie worth checking out. The fact that it feels more like a still-rough-around-the-edges first draft than a fully polished and completed work in its own right is actually what gives the movie its greatest authenticity and appeal.