First-time feature filmmaker Jonah Feingold’s Dating and New York is a winsome rom-com, yes, but it’s also much more. A mordant anti-fairy tale about modern romance, it owes as much to When Harry Met Sally as it does to Shrek. Or better yet, it’s an East Coast successor to the enormously popular Palm Springs. By layering playful twists on top of a timeless romcom foundation, it brings a breath of fresh air to the genre. Its mix of lighthearted fun and caustic commentary—with plenty of Twitter-friendly slang, some terms coined by the film itself—avoids tedious political agendas while capturing a very of-the-moment crisis: our generational inability to commit, and in turn, find fulfillment.
Beneath its compelling surface, Dating and New York is a fitting indictment of modern dating politics—and if you watch closely—gender politics at large. It unfolds like a Disney fairy tale with sweeping strings and a coy, sometimes unreliable narrator … but its characters Wendy and Milo (played with effortless authenticity by Francesca Reale and Jaboukie Young-White) ground the film’s humor in believable emotions. Will they end up together? This is ostensibly the point, but this film digs deeper. No longer is the patriarchal man-child glorified, and the willfully independent female vilified. Milo is for all intents and purposes a fuckboy, too afraid to admit that he’s searching for more; Wendy, equally gun-shy, offers herself as a friend-with-benefits, no strings attached. Their mutual uncertainties become a delightful malaise, seeping into their lives even as their affection grows. They banter, debate and intellectualize while we, the audience, feel their truth as our own.
It all makes even more sense once you learn that Feingold co-hosts Hinge’s official dating podcast. Clearly, the subject hits close to home. Check out our interview with the writer/director below to explore the BTS of his first feature, his circuitous career, and what he wishes he’d known sooner (in both his film career and his love life).