The Boy Downstairs, although it may most comfortably sit within the rom-com genre, avoids the common tropes and clichés of many of the poorer (and multitudinous) romantic comedies.
Diana (a quirky Zosia Mamet) moves back to New York after a spell living in the UK and inadvertently moves in to the flat above the boy she dumped before her transatlantic adventure, Ben (a very sweet Matthew Shear). It’s a more true-to-life representation of a post-break-up, with all the awkwardness and mismatched expectations that brings. There are genuinely funny moments, mostly courtesy of the duo’s shared offbeat sense of humour – but the best bit is that the screenplay never tries too hard to be cool or comedic in a contrived way.
Zosia Mamet and Matthew Shear, importantly, have brilliant, awkward chemistry and make an utterly convincing couple/ex-couple – depending on where they are in the film’s timeline, which jumps backwards and forwards before nicely dovetailing at the denouement.
The Boy Downstairs is also populated by several interesting and well-drawn supporting characters. There’s Diana’s sparky, widowed landlady Amy (a charming Deirdre O’Connell) – we’ll gloss over how struggling writer Diana, working in a bridal shop, could afford such a nice brownstone apartment, however small – and there’s best friend Gabby (a resonant performance from Diana Irvine), trying to learn to value her self-worth. Walk-on roles are equally worthwhile, from an Italian waiter who’s over-protective with his lemons to a snerdy friend of Ben’s.
The Boy Downstairs isn’t a film that’s never been seen before, but it is a fresh take on a continuously popular storyline of boy meets girl… and then thinks she’s pining after him when she moves in upstairs. Its decidedly non-saccharine, relaxed approach makes it well worth your time.
CAST: Zosia Mamet, Matthew Shear, Deirdre O’Connell, Diana Irvine, Sarah Ramos
DIRECTOR: Sophie Brooks
WRITER: Sophie Brooks
SYNOPSIS: A young woman moves back to New York City after her failed experiment of living in Europe and inadvertently rents an apartment one floor above her ex-boyfriend’s, quickly re-opening old wounds.