The times are a changin’ in The Last New Yorker
It’s always hard when you realize you’re growing older. Everything around you is changing. The city you grew up in isn’t the same. All the mom and pop shops you used to frequent are selling out to the newest, biggest franchise. Life is passing you by. This is what’s happening to lifelong friends Lenny and Ruben, two old school New Yorkers in their 70’s, in The Last New Yorker, the full length directorial debut from Harvey Wang.
As Lenny and Ruben–Lenny more so–try and hold onto the days of yesteryear, Lenny gets some unfortunate news. He learns from his nephew that he’s broke. All Lenny has to his name is $5,000 that his nephew put aside for him in a bank account.
As Lenny tries to cope with the fact that the New York of his youth is no more and figure out what he’s going to do about money, he gets a date with a girl that he is mesmerized by.
The Last New Yorker is a charming little film that teaches us that it’s never too late to fall in love. Despite Lenny now being broke and struggling to deal with the ever changing times, he finally decides to go for the one thing in life he’s never had: love.
Lenny is played brilliantly by Dominic Chianese (most famously known as Junior Soprano is “The Sopranos”). Chianese has the perfect blend of charm and charisma to go along with a stubbornness in the ways of old to keep the audience glued to the screen. We laugh with Lenny, we feel for Lenny, we cope with Lenny.
Good portions of the film are full of Chianese dishing out Woody Allen-esque rants of dialogue, almost all about how things aren’t how they used to be. One scene in particular that stands out and is very funny has Lenny lying down in front of a New York taxi as his good friend Ruben (played by Dick Latessa) tries to get him to move along.
The chemistry between Chianese and Kathleen Chalfant (who plays Mimi, the love interest of Lenny) is strong. When Lenny gets up the nerve to ask Mimi for her phone number, we get a scene that in a way sums up a lot of what this movie is about. Mimi says she thinks it would be best for her to take Lenny’s number instead of vice versa. Lenny seems taken back by this, as that’s not how things were done in his day. Mimi assures him that it’s better this way and it sort of points us into the direction that change isn’t always a bad thing.
This is a strong debut from Wang. While moments of the film could have used some tweaking (especially the way in which Lenny sees fit to make his money back), overall this is a good effort. The casting is perfect, particularly that of Chianese who I could listen to talk for days. The Last New Yorker is a highly enjoyable film that everyone should be lucky enough to stumble upon.
For more information on The Last New Yorker and to purchase your own copy on DVD please visit www.lastnewyorker.com