One of the best aspects of writing and curating for this website is being able to see the filmmakers of tomorrow find their cinematic footing today. I feel like I’m afforded a very unique opportunity to watch burgeoning cinematic voices learn and grow. And, after featuring writer/director Joey Izzo’s previous short Stepsister just a few short months ago and now his latest film, My Daughter’s Boyfriend, it’s clear that Izzo is definitely one of those voices that demands to be heard.
To put it directly, I’m a big fan of Izzo’s’s filmmaking style—it’s a naturalistic approach that is character driven, but still propelled by a defined sense of conflict and plot. He comes from the school of Duplass, but supplements his character-driven style with a strong sense of technical craft. Really, it’s the best of both worlds—an independent film that never feels or looks “indie.”
The dramatic crux of this particular story centers on a relationship triangle—that of a well-to-do divorced mother of two, her daughter, and her daughter’s new boyfriend. It’s a film that expertly straddles the line between comedy and drama. The situation may be heightened, but the emotions felt by the characters are real. In her efforts to sabotage the central relationship, are Beth’s actions as a mother warranted? Is it wrong to want what is best for your kid? More importantly, how does a “cool mom” handle dick pics and nude selfies?
As Izzo relates via e-mail, “There was something oxymoronic about the premise, which appealed to me initially. As I further developed the characters, a more provocative and meaningful story emerged – one about a mother’s sexual agency and parental self-sacrifice. I wanted to show a character struggling to work through her hypocritical, moral imperative for the betterment of her daughter. That was the only goal.”
It’s an interesting narrative objective that Izzo manages to effortlessly capture. The titular boyfriend is more body part than human being. Beth imperatively understands her daughter’s attraction to this sort of existential buffoon, and she sort of hates herself for it. Likewise, you understand how her daughter, Sara (played by the awesome Esther Povitsky) can fall for the fantasy.
While the filming style should be lauded—each shot incredibly well framed with terrific, unobtrusive production design—like Stepsister, Boyfriend really sings because of the excellent performances. It’s a film that is just extraordinarily well-performed. Brief interactions are able to comprise entire backstories. Moreover, the facade of the film’s realist style is never broken. Essentially, as viewers we never feel like we’re watching a facsimile of reality. As cliché as it sounds, it actually does all feel “real.”
Obviously, we’re excited to see what Izzo, now a full time Los Angeles resident, will come up with next. He’s currently diligently working on more scripts.