October 4, 2004
Love and a Village Charmer w/ WOOD BRNING FRPLC

Before I moved to Manhattan, spent far too much time in graduate school learning to be erudite about le cinema and became the Cinecultist, I used to just be a movie fan. I loved certain films unabashedly and a tad obsessively particularly ones about the life of young, single New Yorkers watching them over and over again until the VHS tapes (remember those?) almost gave out. Nearly at the top of the list was, and still is, Warren Leight's The Night We Never Met (1993) starring Matthew Broderick and Annabella Sciorra.

The premise is three strangers share an illegal time share in a West Village brown stone walk-up. The lease holder's a Wall Street type about to get married who's moved into his girlfriend's co-op but doesn't want to permanently give up the locale of his boy's club debauchery and so, rents out the space for four other nights a week.

In this pre-Craig's List era, a broken-hearted struggling chef (Broderick) and dental hygienist from Queens (Sciorra) answer his assistant's ad and take the space for cooking/dating and painting, respectively. They only know one another from the names on a posted schedule of assigned days, but with a predictable switch of Tuesday for Wednesday, Ellen the hygienist begins to fall for Sam the chef, but thinks he's called Brian, who's actually the trader. Ah, the vicissitudes of love.

Like the Nina Simone track "My Baby Just Cares For Me" playing in the background on the record player, The Night We Never Met harkens back to a filmic structure abandoned by most recent high concept productions or teenie bopper star-driven rom com vehicles, the character-based drawing room farce.

The tropes may be clichd, but they don't seem dated now 11 years after their original release. The struggling artistic type who craves privacy while living in an apartment with far too many roommates, the middle class woman's fear of her encroaching suburban future, aging frat boy idiots, gourmet food snobs in Dean and Deluca, too nosey neighbors who lurk behind half-opened doors and watch from stoops, all look like people from my neighborhood.

I used to think the movie's happy ending, wherein our happy couple move into the apartment together full time, once they resolve all of the mistaken identities, was a little too tidy and unbelievable. Though now I understand that if you find true love and good real estate in the Village, no moving in scenario could honestly be deemed too hasty. Add The Night We Never Met to your local video store queue for a slow weeknight very soon, and I promise you won't be disappointed.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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