A New York love triangle set in the canyons of Wall Street, The Good Guy (TFF 2009) opens this weekend. Writer/director Julio DePietro gives us the skinny on his debut film.
T Scott Porter, Alexis Bledel
The Good Guy, writer/director Julio DePietro's debut film, premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. As the movie will make its way into theaters this weekend, we caught up with DePietro and asked him to introduce his exploration of love and fidelity among the Wall Street crowd.
Julio DePietro The Good Guy (starring Alexis Bledel, Scott Porter, Bryan Greenberg, and Andrew McCarthy) is ultimately a love story, but it is not a traditional Hollywood-style romantic comedy. The 'R' rating should be some proof of that, but trust me, I had no interest in adding to the pile of bland, predictable movies that could only be conceived by a computer program somewhere in Los Angeles ("it" girl + [shirtless] leading man + wildly contrived premise = sexy, profitable hilarity).
Apart from the love story at the core of the film, one of the primary goals of The Good Guy was to provide a true mirror into the culture of Wall Street—the good, the bad, and the shocking. But it is neither a glamorized view of the now at-least-somewhat humbled Masters of the Universe (no teen idol is seen riding a motorcycle through the streets of Manhattan at any point in this film) nor a populist public caning of these now ridiculously easy targets. Instead, the movie makes an effort to show the people who work on Wall Street as they really are, and to examine the effects that a culture obsessed by wealth and power can have on the people who work there.
Another goal was to try to film the world of The Good Guy as truthfully as possible. In addition to the obvious decision to film it entirely in New York City, the places that the characters frequent in the film don't just look like places these characters might go, they ARE the actual places they would go: the guys entertain boorish clients at Dylan Prime in Tribeca; the women meet for cocktails in the Back Room in the Lower East Side; Alexis spends a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the Housing Works Bookstore in Soho; and there is a scandalous late-night liaison at GoldBar. I personally always get a kick out of recognizing locations when I'm watching a movie, and it gives the film an authenticity that I think people (New Yorkers especially) will appreciate. Besides, the right locations generally make better sets than anything we could have designed; if nothing else, the film is a visual ode to New York City.
It almost goes without saying that the film itself isn't perfect. The screenplay bears some of the marks of a first-time writer, and the finished film, despite the best efforts of an exceptional team of collaborators surrounding me at every point in the production, might not appeal to everyone. That being said, I do think we succeeded—arguably for the first time—in capturing the true world of Wall Street and the people who work there, not to mention telling a love story that actually works. One recent reviewer wrote that it’s somehow a cross between Boiler Room and The Notebook, and as bizarre as that may sound, that’s actually not a bad description. (As an aside, that is also one of the few reviews of the film I've read that had the restraint to not blatantly give away the plot twists of the movie; an unwelcome surprise to me at this late stage of the process…)
Finally, The Good Guy explores the joys and perils of finding love in the big city, but from a distinctly male point of view. As a broken-hearted Tommy (Porter) warns us early on in the movie, it can sometimes feel like a war zone out there, and while I think we were successful in not letting cynicism triumph over realism, ultimately all the characters in the film get what they deserve, if not exactly what they want. With any luck, by the end of the The Good Guy viewers will benefit from the characters' collective experience, but from the safety of their seats in the theater.
Julio DePietro was born in Nigeria to Peace Corps volunteer parents. He lived in Mexico City before his family settled in Ann Arbor. After studying political philosophy at Harvard University, he took a job at an investment firm in Chicago to help pay off student loans, and resigned six years ago to focus on writing and film. He executive produced Manda Bala, which won the documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2007, and Disgrace, which starred John Malkovich and took the International Critics Prize at Toronto. The Good Guyis his writing and directing debut. He lives in New York City.
The Good Guy opens this Friday in New York at the Regal Union Square, AMC Empire 42nd Street, and Clearview First and 62nd Street. Find tickets.