Fleeting moments of marital bliss is the subject of Rebecca Addelman’s Paper Year, a film that explores the tumultuous first year of marriage between two millennials living precariously in Los Angeles. Although largely sympathetic to its central couple, Paper Year often feels like it would have more potential as a cautionary tale for young lovers trying to make it big in the entertainment industry. Though, perhaps it is the balance between sympathy and cautionary that it was going for all along.
The film stars upcoming talents Eve Hewson and Avan Jogia as the recently married Franny and Dan. They have big dreams: Franny wants to make it big as a TV writer, while Dan is struggling to become an actor. They get a whiff of success when Dan gets a job as a house-sitter for a young actress, and Franny succeeds at finding employment at a game show. Things go south, though, when Franny becomes overly invested in a co-worker (Hamish Linklater) while Dan, bored and lonely at home, succumbs to chronically masturbating to online videos of the houseowner.
Director/writer Addelman, who has mostly worked in TV comedy series like New Girl and Ghosted–indeed, one wonders to what extent this film is autobiographical– shows remarkable talent here at addressing both explicitly and subtly the most crucial issues facing upper-middle-class-raised millennials, whose dreams and expectations are sometimes too unrealistic. Though refreshingly, Addelman never reprimands or accuses her characters of being too idealistic for their own good.
Paper Year does strike familiar beats and tones, though it is in its tendency to treat its characters with respect and sympathy that it demonstrates true emotional talent. It is hardly perfect, but it reflects many of the current stresses and anxieties facing many millennials today.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile