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Film Review: The Boy Downstairs Steps Into Relationship Uncertainty

The Boy Downstairs proves that comedy is tragic. Zosia Mamet plays Diana who is incredibly insecure, which puts her in awkward situations. You laugh at her witty one-liners, but also want to shake her until she “gets in line” with some confidence. She is too smart to play herself down as a fool, but there is nothing like a relationship to wise you up.

At first, The Boy Downstairs is not the easiest film to get into because it wants to amp that Diana does not believe in herself. She is “that person” who downplays their self-worth, and leaves you eye-rolling. Yet, you have to look confident to enter a relationship, but you have gain confidence to maintain it. The Boy Downstairs shows that is is not necessarily that relationships make us confident as much as they ask us to be. As Diana grows in love with her ex-boyfriend/ new neighbor, Ben (Matthew Shear), she tries to gain some self- validation, but true feelings are undeniable, especially if not healed.

Relationships make you confront who you are as an individual because they ask you to share who you are as a person. When you connect to someone else, the more you give of yourself, the more you receive the better and worse of your attributes. The Boy Downstairs may seem slow and quiet, but, in perspective, bonds are a process, and you watch as Diana and Ben foster and frustrate their union because they feel more than friends, but already know that they can mess up as lovers. As they try to fall in love, date, and make connections with others, they decipher how they see themselves and deny how they see the other.

The film subtly picks up in pace and intrigue when both start give into their love for each other. Yet, again, this is a film the lives and dies according to whether you care for these characters. It is not like, midway, there is going to be a superhero action sequence or a tragic trauma that changes their lives. Instead, the only tragedy here is how we allow ourselves to be happy with someone else; if we even allow it. Personally, I grew to like Ben and Diana. Matthew Shear is so sweet and almost blissfully oblivious to Diana’s whirlwind of uncertainty. He, like the audience, can see her brightness, but unlike the audience, he cannot fully capture how negatively she can see herself or their bond.

Zosia Mamet makes Diana relatable and raw, which only pushes viewers to self-analyze the many times they sabotaged themselves from opportunity by believing they were too small for it. Directed and written by Sophia Brooks, The Boy Downstairs goes up and down on how a person accepts that they are worthy or want to be with someone. Brooks has written a very real script on how uneasy it makes you feel to feel easy with someone else. The Boy Downstairs opens February 16.

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