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Frownland review

A close-up on the life of a neurotic and needy New Yorker

Imagine a less upbeat Taxi Driver remixed mumblecore style. The result might resemble Ronald Bronstein’s feature debut, which focuses so intimately on its dysfunctional anti-hero, you know every spot on his neck once it’s done.

Dore Mann goes deep into the role of Keith Sontag, an inarticulate, neurotic and needy New Yorker who spends the whole of this tragi-comic character study trying to get anyone’s attention and attempting to help a suicidal young woman.

You’d cross the street to avoid this breakdown-in-waiting but, saggy mid-film plot diversion aside, Bronstein sticks close to him and never softens him for our consumption.

Far from being voyeuristic or sentimental, Bronstein’s intentions are serious and challenging. How far, he implicitly asks, does our empathy stretch?

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