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Monday, June 28, 2010

How I Got Lost


Joe Leonard’s How I Got Lost (2009) is a study in damaged people and places. It follows two friends, Jake (Jacob Fishel) and Andrew (Aaron Stanford), as they ponder what it means to live out their dashed dreams in an emotionally ambiguous, post-9/11 New York City. In an early voiceover, Andrew, the bad boy of the duo, sums it up by saying, “We were the talented kids who were supposed to be great, but then we grew up and had to figure it out on our own.”

As in Marc Webb’s 500 Days of Summer (2009) where we see the fantasy of the protagonist on one side of the screen and the reality on the other, there’s a fundamental disconnect between where these two buddies want to be and where they are. Jake is a novelist in theory, but a lost sports writer pining over a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (Nicole Vicius) in practice; and Andrew aspires to Wall Street success, but is really a drunken failure with self-control issues. Unfortunately for them, they can only take their real selves along on the road trip that forms the story’s arc.

The film is an education in what lost male souls do—drink while walking, smoke while playing basketball, schtup each other’s ex-girlfriends, and turn over tables at their father’s funerals. Yet, the central accomplishment of this slow and talky, albeit well-crafted, movie is that it captures a peculiar brand of modern self-absorption that would lead Jake to conclude that 9/11 happened so that he could meet his dream gal. Like the film he’s a character in, Jake is decidedly insightful, but he just got a bit lost along the way.
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