College student Blake’s (Jessica Barden) relationship column for her school newspaper has gotten tired. Chivalry is a thing of the past and the Nora Ephron-esque ideal of romance doesn’t exist, for Blake, at least. “The grandest it gets these days is swiping left instead of right,” she writes. With nothing to write about her column is at risk of being cancelled until Blake meets Morgan, a young woman who dates wealthy men in return for presents. She’s not a prostitute, she’s a self-declared “sugar baby.” Intrigued by Morgan’s situation and sensing a way to spice up her column Blake spends time with Ian, an older college professor (Timm Sharp), in return for presents like mopeds and bracelets. She is using him for material; he’s using her for sex. The question remains, Can Blake’s self esteem and college career survive her “relationship” with Ian?
“The New Romantic” has charm to spare thanks to an engaging performance by Barden. She is a naïve romantic, vulnerable and yet curious. In short, she’s a real person, not some confection direct from her favourite writer Ephron’s imagination. Barden, best known for her startling work on Netflix’s “The End of the F*****g World,” embraces he contradictions in her character, creating someone who makes mistakes but is nonetheless in control of herself. She is the solid core that anchors the film.
It’s a promising feature debut from Stone who, as director and co-writer, that both embraces and rejects the typical romantic comedy formula.