Since 2012, the film has been in development. The script was written ten years prior, and was featured in the Hollywood Blacklist of best unproduced screenplays. Loeb had been living in Los Angeles for a decade, trying to make it as a writer with little success. He was days away from giving up when producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa spotted his screenplay and expressed interest in producing the movie. In late August, after the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, it was announced that Webb would direct. After which, the film went through various actors and actresses, including Miles Teller, Logan Lerman, Olivia Wilde, and Rosamund Pike, were attached, and different drafts of the script being written, and various of other problems. In early September 2016, Callum Turner replaced Teller in the lead role. By October, Kate Beckinsale, Pierce Brosnan, Cynthia Nixon, Kiersey Clemons, and Jeff Bridges rounded out the film's cast. Shortly after they were cast, Webb gave each actor a book that corresponded to the character they were playing. Clemons received Patti Smith's Just Kids, Turner received David Foster Wallace's Essay's on Tennis, Brosnan received Stories from the New Yorker, Bridges received The New Atlas of New York, and finally Beckinsale received Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. At the same time, principal photography commenced, and took place in the "edgy, ungentrified side" of New York City. The film was shot on 35mm as opposed to digital.
The film stars Turner, Beckinsale, Brosnan, Nixon, Clemons, and Bridges. The quality of the performances given by the cast infused the film with at least some of the necessary drama, and made the film far from being one of the worst films of the year. Beckinsale was persuasive as she was seductive as Johanna, and Turner delivers Thomas' morality by stressing his lust for recognition and connection.
The Only Living Boy in New York is quite naive as its protagonist, but a charming cast wrings respectably engaging drama out of a fairly predictable premise. It disappointingly gets tangled up in plot contrivances, and the real issue of gifted children is just a gooey fantasy. It is a film that could easily have been written and produced on the Lifetime Movie Network. Sure, it's a simple yet convoluted film, but sometimes that's all you need as long as its heart is true. Emotional manipulation gets a bad press. But, hey, sometimes being milked for tears is not a crime. The film isn't the best or most sophisticated or most original film of the year so far – but it just might not be one of my least favourite films of the year. In addition, the film, without a doubt, has to be considered one of the more life-affirming watches of 2017.
Simon says The Only Living Boy in New York receives:
Also, see my review for The Amazing Spider-Man 2.