Person to Person Review - Engaging Vignettes of Every Day Life in Manhattan

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Person To Person, from Magnolia Pictures, presents four vignettes, each revolving around a day in the life of every man in New York City as they go about their lives, and the situation of life in the mean streets.

Directed and written by Dustin Guy Defa, Person To Person stars Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, Bene Coopersmith, George Sample III, Philip Baker Hall, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Michaela Watkins, Olivia Luccardi, Ben Rosenfield, Buddy Duress, Ben Safdie, Maxwell Apple, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Okieriete Onaodowan, Brain Tyree Henry, Marvin Gurewitz,  Steve Urbanski, Craig Butta, Hunter Zimny, Dakota O'Hara and David Zeller.

Person To Person opens as morning breaks in New York city, a soft jazzy bluesy tune as the city and its neighborhoods awake. We meet each of our characters as they set about everyday life and the unexpectedness and surprises of everyday life.

 A murder or suicide occurred on the Upper West Side, the grieving widow played by Michaela Watkins, who is still a suspect as the New York Police Detectives Ronnie, played by Dakota O'Hare, and her partner, trace the last minutes of her husband.


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Chasing the detectives, chasing her are Phil, played by Michael Cera, a local News Editor from New York News, and Abbi Jacobson, a news newbi. The first day on the job for her, a shy, unsure, and by her own definition someone who prefers the librarian life.

The second vignette is Bene, played by Bene Coppersmith, a rare jazz music collector, receives a call from a local record shop owner that a customer has an original of Charlie Parker's "Bird Blows the Blues" for sale. Stopping to see his new girlfriend, Francis, played by Elenore Hendricks, and her son, Owen, played by Maxwell Apple,  the make plans for an evening party.

Staying at his house his best friend, Ray, played by George Sample III, who is hiding out unable to go back to his apartment after he uploaded compromising photos of "the love of his life" Janet, played by Marsha Stephanie Blake and his being hunted by her brother Mike, played by Brian Tyree Henry. The hunt takes them to Ray's internet helper, Eugene, played by Ben Safdie.

Our third story begins with Wendy, played by Tavi Gevinson, a bright and over analytical well educated Manhattan teen who convinces her friend, Melanie, played by Olivia Luccardi, to skip school and the two hang out discussing the value and purpose of the penis and vagina. Soon her Melanie's boyfriend, Scott, played by Hunter Zimny,  and his friend River, played by Ben Rosenfield.

The final story connects to our first story with a shop owner, Jimmy, played by Philip Baker Hall, a watch repairman, who is in possession of a watch brought to him by the grieving widow which becomes pivotal in the case. Buster, played by Isiah Whitlock, Jr, hangs at his shop, telling tall tales, passing time and drinking coffee.

I enjoyed Person To Person on many levels. The film itself is engaging and completes each story, making sure all the loose ends are tied up and doesn't leave any unresolved issues.

Another element is the sense of nostalgia, as I've been away from New York City for some time now, the backdrop of Manhattan, with its 8million stories on any day, is more like a letter from home that highlights a few of the happenings diffusing the shocking with interwoven moments of comedy than the actual pounding the pavement, hustle of the daily life.

I think I expected a bit more connectivity within each group as the film shares the lives of several groups of Manhattanites, and although each aspect is interesting in its own right the stories, in films like this usually interest in some way. The four vignettes, have no interconnectedness other than the backdrop of Manhattan.


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Not that the city isn't enough of a connection, it doesn't narrow the scope of the big city, and as I think about the scenes, I think the possibility of the director making creative choices of the relationship circles building in middle age and narrowing as age creeps up on all of us.

The final scenes show the middle aged blues aficionado having a large party in a small New York apartment with people that genuinely knew each other. And the men at the Watch Shop, a place where they could tell the tall tales and pass the time, drinking coffee.  

The Manhattan stories, separate vignettes of couples, friends, and crime which could ultimately be the connection.

Person To Person is entertaining and the backdrop of New York for those who have or have not lived in the city, longed for the animal that Manhattan is, then Person To Person shows the realities of the Big Apple with all its ills, wonders, awe and magic.

Person To Person is playing in select cities. Check local listing for times.

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