Smile Politely

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: A Hipster Love Story for a Skeptical Age

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is like rediscovering a mix CD from an old boyfriend or girlfriend in the back of your closet-sweet, sentimental and somehow brimming with the possibilities of love, unhampered as yet by the pragmatism and subsequent cynicism of “adult” relationships.

Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan and directed by Peter Sollett, a large part of the success of the film is due to the sheer likability of its stars.

Michael Cera plays Nick, the syrupy sweet, Yugo-driving, handi-wipe toting, only straight member of the gay band, The Jerkoffs. He’s been depressed for a month now since his girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) dumped him on his “b-day.” Broken-hearted and miserable, Nick continues to make Tris mix CDs (Road to Closure, volume twelve being the latest) and pine away. He is finally cajoled out of his house by his band, to honor their gig and with the promise of trying to find the secret concert location of his favorite band, Where’s Fluffy?

Enter Norah (Kat Dennings), who’s both witty and pretty — but without the pretense of knowing it. She’s Tris’s classmate and has been retrieving Nick’s mix CDs from the trash as Tris heartlessly throws them away. Because of their shared musical sensibilities, she has developed a crush on Nick, sight unseen.

Through a series of coincidences, Nick and Norah’s worlds collide as they unite in their mutual quest to find Where’s Fluffy? Of course, complications arise when Nick’s friends fail to deliver Norah’s very drunk friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor) home and lose her in NYC. Nick and Norah join them to pursue Caroline throughout the city, confronted by the relentlessly manipulative Tris, Norah’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Tal (Jay Baruchel), and their own growing feelings for one another.

Nick and Norah’s adventure escapes the lurid fascination of the overdone teen sex comedy/road trip drama by keeping the characters real, relatable, and their conversations achingly resonant. We feel Norah’s righteous indignation when she says to Nick, who is unable to stop waxing nostalgic on Tris, “I will not be the goody bag at your pity party!” Similarly, when Nick tells his gay band mates, “Guys, you have no idea how hard it is to be straight,” we somehow know exactly what he means.

Music is the commonality that binds Nick and Norah together and the soundtrack does not disappoint. With notable tracks from Vampire Weekend, Chris Bell and Mark Mothersbaugh it serves as the perfect backdrop to Nick and Norah’s unlikely NYC experience.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist serves as a hipster love story for a skeptical age. Somehow Nick and Norah remind us that love can be simple, uncomplicated, and perfect in all its imperfections. Thom, Nick’s friend, tries to encapsulate the sentiment when he explains the beautiful simplicity of the Beatles song, “I want to hold your hand” “That’s what it is all about!” he enthuses. And in the moment, that’s enough to make us believe that it just might be.

Now playing at the Beverly and Savoy cinemas.
Runtime: 1h 30min — Rated PG-13 — Comedy

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