The Narcissists, written and directed by Quincy Rose, is a quirky new meta comedy that plays out like a darker, edgier, and more modern version of something that Woody Allen would have made in his prime. It isn’t without its issues, but The Narcissists is a fun and memorable indie that is absolutely refreshing.
The film follows the two halves of a couple, Oliver and Cassi, as they walk through the streets of New York with their respective best friends, discussing their views on the relationship, romance, and other pertinent topics. This story is admittedly rather thin, but it is ultimately inconsequential. Instead, Rose’s purpose with this movie seems to be to bring attention to his opinions regarding the things being discussed.
Much like Woody Allen, by whom he was obviously influenced, Rose has a way with dialogue. This film is the very definition of talky, but the wit and quick pace of the dialogue allow the movie to be thoroughly entertaining. Granted, the film does push the envelope a bit too far at times, but even then, it seems that Rose is providing tongue-in-cheek commentary on “locker room talk”, sparing no one from his ridicule.
The character development in the movie is quite interesting too. None of the characters are particularly likable (they are narcissistic, as the title implies), but the film does a good job of making them, or at least their plight, into something sympathetic. Even though it is hard to like the characters because of their overbearing personalities, it is easy to feel bad for them because of the situation in which they find themselves.
All four of the lead actors are quite charming and have good chemistry with their dialogue partner. Rose and Zack Tiegen have a great duality between them, Rose being quieter and more sarcastic, and Tiegen being louder and more crude. Jessica DiGiovanni and Augie Duke have a similar dynamic, but not quite to the same level of enjoyability as Rose and Tiegen.
That said, there were some directorial decisions in the movie that don’t quite pay off. The main portion of the film, involving the two conversations, ends about an hour in. The remaining length of the movie is spent on staged talking head interviews with the actors in character. The conversations were far more interesting and enjoyable to watch. Why Rose didn’t allow that to go on longer is baffling, as there was still plenty of time left in which the audience would be willing to pay attention.
The film also isn’t totally effective on a technical level. The shots are beautiful and allow the city of New York to be a character of sorts in the movie, but this does not lend itself to the emotional crux of the story. Since so many of the shots are lengthy, distant, and static, it isn’t until the actors walk closer to the camera that we are really able to see their emotions. This definitely hurts the film.
The Narcissists may not have the polish of other similar indie comedies, but it still has plenty of charm. Thanks to witty and funny dialogue and some solid performances, this is a hilarious and original comedy that you should definitely check out.
The Narcissists is now available on VOD.