When it comes to dating, self-awareness can be a difficult thing to achieve. Rarely, do we ever think that we’re in the wrong…it’s so easy to shift the problems to the other person: they’re not fun or hot enough, too boring, they eat their peas one at a time.... Essentially, it’s always you, not me.
A Lack of Dating in Brooklyn from director Drew Van Steenbergen and starring frequent collaborator and screenwriter Quinn Marcus is about a character who is coming to terms with herself. It’s a low-key, talky dramedy about a woman who is beginning to realize that she may, in fact, be the asshole. It’s as much about dating as it is about growing up. And, with said growth comes the maturity to admit that maybe “blame” can’t always be cast off on others.
Brooklyn comes off less like a short film and more like a mini-pilot for a tv show with Marcus as the lead. And, that suits us fine. The character work here is subtle and well-performed: it’s a persona we could easily see sustaining itself across multiple episodes. Still, more importantly, there is enough of an arc here that it still feels like a satisfying standalone viewing experience.
As writer Quinn Marcus relates to Short of the Week:
“I thought it was interesting that as a gay woman, I was having the same issues in dating as my straight guy friends. We were all confused and not doing it well. And dating at 23 is very different than dating in college or dating in your late 20s. At 23, I was still very focused on myself. It’s hard to care about someone else when you’re solely enveloped by yourself. So I tended to make more of a fool of myself to women.”
While the trials and tribulations of dating are obviously well-traversed cinematic territory, it’s worth mentioning that it’s rarely scene from a lesbian lens. Granted, there are many notable exceptions (and the media landscape is slowly getting more diverse), but the distinction here is that this isn’t a film about lesbian dating. Rather, it’s about the universal experience of dating with a character who just happens to be gay. That may sound like semantics, but I’d argue it’s really important. Regardless of your sexual orientation, you can relate to Sam as a character. And, that sort of connection fosters understanding and empathy—something that is far more powerful, I feel, than “message films” about the LGBT experience.
Aesthetically, everything is really well crafted. A S/W Alum with his film Alone with People (also starring Quinn Marcus), it’s exciting to see Van Steenbergen progress as a filmmaker. While I really enjoyed Alone, this film feels less on-the-nose and more tightly constructed. Not to mention, I was really digging his use of long takes combined with a subtle use of zooms (an underused cinematic technique that proves quite effective here).
Fresh off a Streamy award for his web series, Brooklyn Sound, Van Steenbergen has recently started segment directing for the Late Late Show with James Corden. Quinn Marcus is working on her very own talk show while also making a feature. In other words, more good stuff to come!