Written and directed by Shannon Alexander, Swiping, dating, ghosting, have you wondered what was really going on in your date’s head? Follow candid thoughts and encounters between diverse singles looking to mingle or marry, from texts to hook ups and beyond. Starring: Aisha Kerensa, Emile Filippi, Troy Weekes, Izzie Zuniga, Jack Terzi and Camila Allison.
With the meteoric rise of dating apps in the last few years, the entire culture and experience has become a different beast. With so many options at your fingertips with a few swipes, it’s not a surprise that the psychology of many has changed and embraced both the egotistical and vain as well as openness and willingness to take chances. The end result is a combination that can range from quickly dismissive to committed, and we get a look into real world examples of that with Sex, Love, Misery: New New York. It especially dives into judgement, impression and perception, the latter being the most fascinating as it’s a rare chance to see both sides of the coin. It’s fairly exceptional for anyone’s opinion of a date to exactly match up, unless you’re basically soulmates, so it’s interesting to see how each moment is interpreted differently by each person.
One of the other interesting elements is the style of direction, being so down to earth and honest in its story, you’d imagine a more unfiltered or raw style to the visual but it’s very clean and structured. However, its atmosphere captures the messier side to things, it has a slightly quirky edge and does well to hold onto a realistic amount of awkwardness. Part of that is how much Shannon Alexander gets from the subjects, there are unexpected details and it does genuinely feel like none of them are trying to alter or censor themselves for camera. The choice of people also feels well done, they’re an unusual mix and each have very different personalities. Each of them are open in their own ways, whether that be inwards and reflective or blunt about their impressions and experiences.
Undoubtedly, despite being shot during the pandemic and much of it outside, it doesn’t feel restricted at all. Shooting in New York is always going to be a benefit and provide a great amount of variety and satisfying backdrops. Even with a short runtime for a feature, that’s never a guarantee that a film will move well, so the pacing here shouldn’t be underappreciated. It’s cut well to move back and forth smoothly between each pairing, it’s a good ratio of getting to know a little about each person before diving into their thoughts on each other. It gives you the time to get a sense of their personalities which then colours how they react to the other person, and presents a nicely rounded perspective. There is only so much you can cover in less than seventy minutes, and a deep psychological and societal dive into the dating world would take an entire series worth, if not more, to truly grasp everything, but this is a nice and succinct window into that conversation.
Sex, Love, Misery: New New York is an entertaining and interesting look into the world of dating. It’s fascinating to be able to see how each person’s perspective is different, how their version of the date and their interactions do or don’t match up, as well as the judgements that are quickly made. It’s shot well, the subjects are open and honest, each of them is different and it takes the time to get to know them before they’re sent off on their dates. It’s a satisfyingly realistic mix of hope and disappointment, it’s relatable and just the right amount of awkward, as any dating experience is.