As a native New Yorker, I loved what director Aaron Katz and his tight crew accomplished presenting Brooklyn in their new film Quiet City – they found solace. The film follows a simple story – a young woman visits New York but can’t find her friend, and ends up spending the weekend with a slacker guy she meets in the subway – but Katz says he penned a 120-page script which provided the platform for improvised character development that is endearing and insightful.
One might say that it appears that this crew brought their pastoral North Carolina atmosphere to NYC (David Gordon Green served as an assistant grip of some sort), but I prefer to think that they lovingly captured a side of New York that not many people, and certainly not many non-natives, are ever able to appreciate: the wistful solitude you can find, particularly when you’re falling in love, when you’re able to shut the world out and serenely drift through the streets of the world’s most bustling town.
The two actors, Erin Fisher and Cris Lankenau, had never really met before the 6-day shoot began, so the learning and exploring process we see on screen is very real. Apparently the camera rolled and rolled on the pair, sometimes going for takes as long as 35 minutes (hot swapping out digital memory cards to keep recording). The results are delicate camera work, austere sound, and rich, engaging performances.
At the Q & A following the premiere, an audience member asked the two actors what they thought happened next for their characters, after the film’s final moments. [Warning: A charming little semi-spoiler follows.] Erin said that she assumed that they did fool around when they got back to the guy’s place, but that the shot of the airplane that ends the film indicated that her character went home, and there was no long-term, long-distance relationship. Taking over the mic, Cris responded, “So I was used and abused, huh?” He explained that he thought the airplane shot was just mood-setting scenery, and that she stayed and their relationship flourished. “Is that what you wanted,” Erin asked him. “Yeah, that’s what I wanted.” If you saw this film, you’ll understand how that little meta-extension of the story is fittingly sweet and poignant.