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Quiet City Reviews

Writer-director Aaron Katz's second feature, following the barely-released DANCE PARTY USA (2006), is an accidental, almost-love story that plays out against the backdrop of New York City's quiet corners. Jamie (Erin Fisher) has come from Atlanta to stay with her friend Samantha, who's supposed to meet her at a Brooklyn diner called Daisy's. Adrift in a huge, deserted subway station, she asks Charlie (Cris Lankenau) for directions and he belies his shuffling slacker exterior by walking there, learning along the way that Erin doesn't know Samantha's address and hasn't spoken to her in several days. When Samantha isn't at Daisy's, Charlie stays to keep Erin company and, as the night wears on, offers to let her stay at his place. Over the course of the night and the following day, we learn that Charlie is out of work and still recovering from a recent breakup, while Jamie has a jealous boyfriend and a dead-end job waiting tables at Appleby's. They find Samantha's apartment, but she's not there. They visit Charlie's newly engaged friend Adam (director Joe Swanberg), go to a gallery opening for Jamie's friend Robin (Sarah Hellman) and wind up at a party that goes long into the night. And maybe they fall in love a little, but neither is sure and neither wants to make the first move… maybe tomorrow. Written in a week and a half and shot in eight days, Katz's slight, collaborative film parses the insecurities of recent college graduates who know they should be starting their grown-up lives but haven't figured out how, so they hide behind goofy hipster poses, cling to old relationships rather than form new ones and talk so much that opportunities pass them by. It's of a piece with Jay and Mark Duplass' THE PUFFY CHAIR (2005), Swanberg's LOL. (2006) and HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS (2007) and Andrew Bujalski's FUNNY HA HA (2002) and MUTUAL APPRECIATION (2006), sharing both their assets – achingly natural performances and dialogue, utter indifference to Hollywood narrative formulas -- and their liabilities, notably a tendency to childish navel gazing. And that, of course, is the essence of youth: Callow, self-centered, often infuriatingly inarticulate but filled with possibility; Katz and leads, who improvised much of their own dialogue, capture the contradictions with enough fragile charm that it's hard not to wish them well.