For years, teenagers have connected with one another through music and
the discovery of new and different bands. Even though technology has
allowed music to be more widespread and portable, there is still the
thrill of late-night adventures seeking live performances from
favourite bands. In Peter Sollett's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,
he brings this out on screen in a fun manner that shows you do not
necessarily need crude humour or death-defying encounters to make a
night out with friends an interesting and worth telling story.
Throughout the film, the audience becomes more enriched by the
characters and their ideas. Nick and Norah could have easily become a
smug "teenagers rule over all" tale like this year's Charlie Bartlett,
but is instead is a sweet romance between two individuals that most
people can easily relate to.
Nick (Michael Cera) is the guitarist for a queercore band with his two
friends Dev and Thom (Rafi Gavron and Aaron Yoo). He is currently
grieving over the separation between his former girlfriend Tris (Alexis
Dziena), but decides to join his friends for a performance out in New
York City. In an act of desperation, he encounters Norah (Kat
Dennings), who asks Nick to be his boyfriend for five minutes. After
her drunken friend Caroline (Ari Graynor) runs off into the city, Nick
and Norah along with his friends scour the city in search of her.
Meanwhile, Tris is decides to go after Nick to find out if it truly is
over between them.
One of the key successes of this film lies with the ensemble cast of
talented young actors. Adults are barely featured in this film, as the
teenage characters are given the overall spotlight here and Peter
Sollett has hired some very good actors to play these parts. Michael
Cera is still playing the awkward individual he has been doing since
Arrested Development, but he still grows into the part well, as his
character is not quite as nervous as previous roles. He proves to be
likable and relatable in the part and his chemistry with the other
actors comes off very well. Kat Dennings surpasses him, though, giving
Norah a sarcastic wit and coming off as very easy to relate to. The way
Nick and Norah progress throughout the film is handled very well by
Cera and Dennings. Ari Graynor deserves some acclaim for her wacky, but
still nuanced performance as Caroline. She is given the bulk of
"stunts" in this film, particularly when sharing the screen with a
piece of gum that ends up becoming a separate character by itself.
Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron and Jonathan B Wright allow their best friend
roles to become more than just simple stereotypes as they prove just as
likable as the leads. Jay Baruchel also does a fine job in a small role
that is definitely very far from the meek actor he played in last
summer's Tropic Thunder.
Credit should also go to first-time screenwriter Lorene Scafaria,
adapting the original source material by Rachel Cohn and David
Levithan. She writes a funny and intelligent script with well-developed
characters who evolve effectively and realistically as the film goes
on. She also does not go the Adventures in Babysitting route by showing
New York after hours as a grungy underworld, instead opting for a more
light-weight approach to the material. She understands the independent
musical scene of the Big Apple and she portrays it effectively
throughout the course of the film. Director Peter Sollett and
Cinematographer Tom Richmond also do well in lighting the city and
allowing it to breathe. Even though the large majority of Nick and
Norah takes place at night, there is still plenty of light that shines
through, particularly in showing the vast culture. Legendary locations
like the New Jersey Turnpike, Times Square and Pennsylvania Station
also make appearances to give the film an even more New York feel.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist simply wants to be a fun, breezy
ride through New York's music scene and the audience is happy to go
along with it. The characters are easy to relate to, the writing is
intelligent and the direction is solid. Though there have been plenty
of "one night in the city" films, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
manages to stay fresh and original and unique through its running time.
Overall, this is definitely one to watch at the evening showing with