Jo and Mara aren’t the typical twenty-something New Yorkers that the movies obsess over. Their livelihoods don’t depend on going out every evening; we don’t see them ensnared in an endless night of unpredictable shenanigans. They drink, but they’re never drunk. They go through a carousel of boyfriends, but we aren’t privy to initial meet-cutes. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Jo and Mara are quite content making up for everyone else’s lack of an early nighttime snooze. And when Mara gets an unexpected call from Jo late at night, it isn’t because she got her hands on tickets to a secret show.
One of the more orthodox movies of its hyper-realist ilk to come about in recent years, Dan Sallitt’s “Fourteen,” just the 64-year-old director’s third feature since the start of the millennium, is so frank and unsentimental that you’d ask a mutual friend to keep an eye on it if it was a living person. It feels like one of those movies that – if made under slightly different circumstance, or with a different director, or with a stronger loyalty to convention – would’ve had my emotions grasping to drop anchor in some place where the proverbial rock of its central relationship doesn’t crumble away from sheer mundanity or inert inevitability. Continue reading →