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USA 2013
Directed by
Scott Coffey
97 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Adult World

Actor-turned-director Scott Coffey’s film is both snappily clever and frustratingly derivative, a mixture of likeability and give-me-a-break superficiality that cries out to better than it is.

Amy (Emma Roberts) is a 22 year-old college graduate living in Syracuse, in upstate New York, who believes she's destined to be a great poet although with no evidence to substantiate it. When her parents finally say enough is enough she gets a job at a sex shop while pursuing her idol, reclusive writer Rat Billings.

Coffey and writer Andy Cochran has cobbled together a standard-issue indie film that is moderately engaging largely thanks to the perky presence of Roberts in the lead role and Cusack as her cynical mentor. The relationship between the two is nicely realized and their verbal exchanges zestily amusing.

Where the film falls down is in the tokenism  of the broader narrative.  The setting of a sex shop is a rather obvious gimmick although not necessarily a bad thing but giving Amy not only a clearly eventual boyfriend in cute fellow-worker  (Jesse Eisenberg look-alike, Evan Peters) and hooking her up with a pre-op trannie (Armando Riesco) with a heart of gold to share her troubles with are over-used devices.  With little to nothing made of the support characters, a cavalier approach to narrative that, for instance allows Amy to drive from her parent’s place in daylight and arrive a short distance away at Rat’s at night, or has Rat improbably turning up at Amy’s birthday party with a giggling Asian woman and a particularly hurtful  present, the bon mots are buried by the conventionality of plotting.  

With her earnestness and intensity Amy is an engaging character, as Rat well identifies although Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha is arguably a more successful instance of this style of kookie girl coming-of-age thing.




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