Written and directed by Sophie Brooks, who makes her feature directorial debut here, The Boy Downstairs is another story of a well-educated white person who is trying to figure themselves out and accomplishes their dreams while living in New York City. In this case Zosia Mamet stars as Diana, a young woman who wants to be a professional writer but, of course, is having issues breaking into the industry despite being told for years she’s quite good.
Things get complicated on a personal level when, shortly after moving, she finds she’s accidentally rented an apartment in the same building where her ex-boyfriend Ben (Matthew Shear) lives. Not only that, but he lives there with his current girlfriend Meg (Sarah Ramos). Awkwardness gives way to a renewed connection between the two as they spend more time together, wondering eventually why they broke up, which causes ripples in both their lives.
The poster doesn’t have a whole lot going on. It’s just a photo of Mamet standing in front of a bookcase looking a bit confused and unsure of whatever’s happening in front of her. That photo is cropped to just take up the upper right of the poster, the rest of which features a solid yellow background on which the cast, title and other credits are placed. The crux of the story is explained by the tagline “Her ex-lover is her new neighbor.” This looks very much like the poster for a movie about well-educated but neurotic New Yorkers.
As the trailer opens Diana is looking for an apartment in New York City and is immediately identifiable as an awkward, mildly neurotic writer. She soon realizes that her new place comes with unexpected emotional baggage as her ex-boyfriend lives downstairs in the building. That gets weird as the two of them kinda sorta reconnect despite the fact that he has a new girlfriend. She says they’re just going to be friends but of course there are still feelings there and someone is going to get hurt.
We’ve seen this movie before, so it’s the performances that are going to be the biggest actual draw. Mamet is cute and charming, but there’s little in the trailer indicating she or anyone else rises above the tropes of this particular story. Nice enough, but nothing all that special.
Online and Social
Not much happening on FilmRise’s official website, which just has a few production stills, a story synopsis, a list of the theaters where the film is opening this weekend and a press kit to download if you want some message points.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing I’m aware of, though there may have been some geo-specific advertising done in the markets the film is opening in at first.
Media and Publicity
The movie was one of those announced as screening at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
An interview with Brooks seems to have been the main element of the publicity push. In it she talked about graduating to feature directing, the state of the rom-com genre, gender roles on film and lots more.
Mamet certainly is charming and, as I said, is the main reason presented to see the movie since the story is nothing we haven’t seen hundreds of time before, at least not based on what we see here. If there’s a more original film that Brooks has made, it’s being hidden here by something that looks very, very familiar.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. You can still enjoy something even if you can anticipate every beat well before it happens. Overall, though, this looks like the kind of movie that would have been made in the mid-90s and star Winona Ryder, just with a slightly new veneer applied to the exterior.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.