In the age of social media apps such as Tinder, the way we view and define relationships is ever changing. As a society we are moving towards a dangerous code of ethics that holds instant gratification above all else. When love and sex can be found at the speed of your finger swiping across a screen, what are the consequences? How does this constant bombardment of eligible suitors affect us in this day and age? How are the concepts of truth and privacy going to be defined going forward? With Newness, Director Drake Doremus tackles these questions and more.
Director Drake Doremus and Screenwriter Ben York Jones have a working friendship that dates back to their 2010 Sundance collaborative debut Douchebag. Since then, they have collaborated on a string of runaway Sundance successes that has helped pull them out from shadows, and propelled them into powerhouse status. With Newness, the two have solidified their status as Indie film legends. Jones’ writing offers a unique perspective on the human condition that derives its strength from creating common relatable characters and relationships. And when he pairs with the actors dream in Doremus, they work as two sides of the same brain, churning out films that are a struggle not for what they say about their characters, but for what they say about us. At times the situations and conversations are so real and seem so personal to the viewer, that we are left to wonder which parts of the film were lifted directly from our own collective memories.
The acting in Newness meets the top tier expectations that one anticipates when walking into a Doremus film. Actors Laia Costa and Nicholas Hoult have found the perfect opportunity to solidify their status as a next level actors. Hoult being better known for X-Men and Mad Max, and Laia, who burst onto the scene with a starring role in the electric, German thriller Victoria, have always been good fits for movies where visual aesthetics supersede character development in story. With Newness they have been given the perfect chance to shine, and shine they do. Laia is the absolute star of the show, and delivers a performance that is on par with even those nominated for this year’s Academy Awards. Oh and let’s not forget about Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond III, it must suck to be good at so many things.
Though profitability of film soundtracks went out with the 90s, it must be noted that Newness touts an incredible score and includes cuts from Nouvelle Vague, Jim James, as well as a few beautiful piano pieces from legendary pianist Nihls Frahm. When mixed together with the remarkable skills of Editor Lisa Gunning, the film creates a circulating field of visual and aural bombardment that stimulates the senses and drains the body.
The value of a film like Newness is not just in its important commentary, but also its ability to encourage us to self-analyze. To think about the path we are taking and what destinations lie for ahead. It is a heart wrenching dissection of love in the internet age. In it’s simplest form, it is a film about conversations, but also about truth, and about pushing boundaries. It’s a film that asks more questions than it answers. Both deeply personal and immensely passionate, Newness is not just good for cinema, it’s good for the soul.