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Guy Friends mines rom-com traditions

Since New York City and rom-coms go together so well—think Harry meeting Sally or some of Woody Allen’s views—writer director Jonathan Smith gets good vibes for his fourth feature film, Guy Friends. Using Harry style interviews along with black-and-white imagery highlighting Manhattan architecture, Smith’s plot twist focuses on a woman who prefers the company of guys as buddies.  Or so she thinks until her boyfriend dumps her and she discovers the men around her have other ideas. Lighthearted without searching for deep ideas, Smith’s script features dialogue using good amounts of wit and casual insight. He balances the story in a roundabout way, circling back with interviews of women besties sharing how they became friends. The script probably reads quite well. Its transformation to screen includes nicely framed shots and smooth movements, providing an enjoyable tour of New York accompanied by jazz piano. But one key element suffers: comfortable acting. With a shooting budget of just $5,000, Smith turned to some non-professionals who remember their lines and look right but lack the ease of performers who get their seemingly natural screen presence through a bit of training.  The difference between Smiths journeyman shows when juxtaposed with professionals in the cast, like Patrick Collins whose track record includes work on Broadway and in various television shows. But hiring pros costs money.  Five-thousand dollars does not go far in the acting world, and what Smith puts on screen looks impressive under the circumstances.

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