Blake’s lackluster love life just got her fired. She used to be the sex columnist for her college newspaper, but since she can’t remember the last time she even gave a hand job, her readers have lost interest in her sex life, and maybe she has too.
Conveniently for both the script, and her sudden interest in gonzo journalism (prize money is at stake), the VERY next night she tapped to be the third party in a sexual tryst where two of the positions were be paid, hers included.
Prostitute? Gold digger? An older, wealthy man “helps” a young woman out, in exchange for sex and the good, easy parts of a relationship – dates but not feelings, essentially. Rather than cash, she gets paid in designer hand bags and trips to Paris. Wait. Is this sounding a little too much like sex with Sean? Not that Sean has ever bought me a sex moped. A “ho”ped if you will. But bags and trips for sure. So there’s a gifty element to almost any relationship. And Blake wonders why we’re so squeamish about gold diggers anyway. History is filled with patrons.
The New Romantic is an entertaining if enjoyably predictable introduction to the sugar baby lifestyle choice – a world I knew little about, and to be honest, I hadn’t often thought of this side of the equation. Sugar Daddies are a known quantity. In this case, Ian claims not to know what women want, and he has enough money to not spend the energy figuring it out. It hurt my feelings a bit that the rich old man is played by Undeclared’s Timm Sharp, who is younger than Sean, but I guess this is our new reality. Ian doesn’t play games; he makes faithful transactions. He even seems to like Blake (Jessica Barden), which is confusing for her. Blake is young enough to confuse money and its trappings for romance. After dating broke college boys, fancy french restaurants and conflict-free diamond tennis bracelets seem awfully chivalrous. Of course, where some men may expect sex after such “chivalry”, Ian feels entitled – he’s owed, because technically, he’s paid for it. So that one time you try to beg off and realize that your No doesn’t hold salt, it’s a bit of a wake up call.
This movie is a sweet surprise and Jessica Barden is a big part of its success. Director Carly Stone has a light touch. For the most part it’s fun and flirty – which makes the few weightier scenes all the more noticeable. The New Romantic features an actually likeable Millennial and a forthrightness about her particular dating woes, told in a way that makes us all feel a lot less judgmental. And it also might make you wonder if you’re underpaid for all that milk you’ve been giving away.