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Review: Well-observed ‘Person to Person’ mixes comedy and drama on the less traveled streets of New York

Abbi Jacobson and Michael Cera in the film “Person to Person.”
(Magnolia Pictures)

For his sophomore feature, writer-director Dustin Guy Defa sets three stories on one day in modern-day New York, but “Person to Person” is a ’70s throwback. Director of photography Ashley Connor shot it on 16mm, but its vintage look goes beyond the film choice. The low-key dramedy focuses on the city’s less picturesque locales, while costume designer Annell Brodeur clothes characters in either old-school suits or current styles in retro shades.

A trio of narrative threads winds through the city streets of “Person to Person.” Music lover Bene (Bene Coopersmith) gets a call about a rare Charlie Parker record for sale, while his best friend Ray (George Sample III) deals with the consequences of his actions after a break-up. High schooler Wendy (Tavi Gevinson) skips class, but finds that a day with her best friend (Olivia Luccardi) is complicated by an unexpected arrival. Finally, new reporter Claire (Abbi Jacobson) struggles in her first day on the job training with Phil (Michael Cera), as they look into a possible murder and interview a reticent watchmaker (Philip Baker Hall).

“Person to Person” addresses the challenges of making human connections, but scattering its 84-minute running time across three stories means that we don’t get to know any of its characters very well. It’s a slight film, but it’s populated by enjoyable moments and wry observations that will appeal to fans of talky indies.

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‘Person to Person’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Playing: Landmark Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles

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