Indie auteur Alex Ross Perry returns to the silver screen with Golden Exits, which begins opens with Emily Browning’s Naomi, sat on her doorstep, singing New York Groove by KISS, and instantly the viewer is beguiled – an essential introduction to the character, for it’s her very arrival in the Big Apple which causes such disruption, as we becomes as absorbed by her, in much of the same way the myriad of male character that orbit around her also feel.

Hailing from Australia, Naomi has landed a job that will ensure she can remain on American soil for a few months, working as an assistant to Nick (Adam Horovitz) as he archives materials concerning his dead father-in-law. Spending every day together, in a modest sized office, this ignites the jealousy in Nick’s wife Alyssa (Chloe Sevigny) and the scepticism in her sister Gwendolyn (Mary-Louise Parker). For good reason too, as Nick develops feelings of infatuation for her new colleague, and he’s not the only one either – as she reconnects with family friend Buddy (Jason Schwartzman) who persists in sneaking out on his wife Jess (Analeigh Tipton) to visit his Aussie acquaintance. Though the two men insist on remaining faithful, it’s simply the presence of Naomi that disrupts the balance, highlighting certain pent-up insecurities they may not have knowne existed.

This ensemble piece, with natural comparisons to be made to Woody Allen given the myriad of characters that adorn the New York landscape, is Perry’s most accomplished film to date, as the way he drifts between each intersecting narrative is effortless, with short scenes, and fading to black, as we float, stopping briefly to indulge in somebody’s life, only to move on elsewhere, always invested, always engaged. The filmmaker should also be commended for managing to interweave the various characters and conflicting plot-lines with one another, without contrivance, which is by no means easy to pull off.

Golden ExitsThere’s an indelible mood to Golden Exits too, and perhaps in line with the film’s title (it’s not about Donald Trump’s Russian antics, sadly), it seems as though the entire picture takes place during the afternoon, where a warming, golden Spring glow makes up the backdrop. Add the gentle piano-heavy score, and there’s a tenderness that is endearing to the viewer, albeit one that contradicts the angst within the characters, the repressed desires and unspoken complications that suffocate the minds of the protagonists. Staying tonally true to Perry’s work, there’s a darkness that lingers, a cold vacuousness, where you always feel we’re on the verge of inner destruction.

For it’s within the mind where the majority of this film seems to take place, as a feature that thrives in the subtext, so often about what’s not said, as opposed to what is. It’s the occasional glances that tell us everything we need to know, and we play on little foibles people have in a comedic manner, offering a heightened take on reality, with conspicuous reactions, deliberately overstated so the viewer never has any problem reading the mind of the character, and yet despite this approach, it feels so strikingly naturalistic, extenuating our small idiosyncrasies in a way that is relatable, rather than alienating. And it’s that relatability which makes this film so rewarding, if uncomfortable to the viewer. There’s a moment when Naomi, having lunch with Nick, says she just wants to see films with normal people in them. A meta comment, certainly, as this film revels in doing just that.