Review: ‘Those People,’ a touching take on Manhattan’s young and rich
“Those People,” by writer/director Joey Kuhn (from a story by Kuhn and Grainne Belluomo), has the aspiration to be a sex-drenched, naughty rich kids in Manhattan tale — with an LGBT twist. With the good-looking cast, glitzy urbane setting, and entitled, showtunes-obsessed characters, it has the shiny surface to pull it off.
Sebastian Blackworth (Jason Ralph) is the center of his small universe, the sun around which his closest friends orbit. He’s overly reliant on the sweet Charlie (Jonathan Gordon), his most faithful worshiper. Sebastian’s friends — loyal to a fault— are his family, with his father, a Bernie Madoff-type, locked up in prison for financial wrongdoings. But when Charlie stretches his wings beyond Sebastian’s world, finding romance with an older concert pianist, Tim (Haaz Sleiman), Sebastian can’t take not being the center of attention.
Ultimately, it’s the heart that betrays the Gatsby-esque ambitions of “Those People” — it’s a bit too nice to be the kind of cynical commentary on the privileged, young, and debauched that it aims for. These are kids who spend their days tipsily singing along to the “Pirates of Penzance” soundtrack — how debauched can they really be?
But as a coming of age story about first loves and the gold of old friends, “Those People” is quite touching, especially with the winsome Gordon as the lovable, if often misguided, Charlie. Even if the financial issues are painted with too broad a brush, it captures both the magic and hardship of New York in your early 20s, the roller coaster of first love, and the necessary resilience of friendship.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood
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