He’s a German businessman who flew to New York City to lay off a company. She’s a beautiful secretary fired from the company who writes beautiful music. They meet by chance and spend the day together before he has to fly away. What sort of day will they have?
It turns out a rather lousy day. That would make for an unexpected story, but the movie is insisting their day was incredible. From the chauffeur who won’t stop ranting about how this is the greatest romance he has ever seen to every new character the German meets insisting he needs to change his life. Instead of letting the characters speak for themselves, there is that judgment placed on them.
Niklas (Ken Duken) is criticized from beginning to end. He is not laughing like a Bond villain when he has to close a business; he is not obsessed with his expensive watch. All he has is a certain work ethic that placed him into a higher society, but this makes him an evil man. Even when he says that he doesn’t believe in the souls of the dead moving on, he is criticized.
Leticia (Nicole Beharie) starts off as a really sympathetic person. Her music is inspiration to the neighborhood and she has a loving relationship with her pastor father (Reg E. Cathey from “The Wire”). Then after she is unnecessarily cruel to Niklas for most of the movie, she lost my support. Yet, this is still the greatest romance ever witnessed despite no romantic scenes, only romantic shots.
Despite having a number of problems with the core relationship, the film shows New York City in a way rarely seen. They avoid all of the typical cinematic visuals and focus on a smaller community. Its church and streets have a more homely feel that separates itself from the busyness of the city. Co-writer/director Stefan C. Schaefer avoids using grand romantic gestures by allowing it to be more intimate between the two of them. It allows the world to stay within a more realistic grounding, but the structure betrays it at the end.
There are a number of ways their paths could have crossed and affected each other, leading to a number of different endings. This conclusion doesn’t seem to connect with where the characters were heading. It was going for a more topical version of “Before Sunrise” and it wasn’t just there yet.