Box Party Films, 2023
📷 : Used with Permission, Chris Leary
Movies and TV shows with a lot of dialog
Movies and TV shows with heart, positive vibes, and warm messages
We’ve all heard idioms such as, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” However, platitudes like this ignore the reality of how humans survive in a new environment. Adapting involves making new friends in your new surroundings and letting go of connections from your old one. Those who believe in soulmates feel like their heart will always yearn for the same person regardless of distance, but for everyone else, it is important to turn the page. Chris Leary’s touching pandemic-era romantic drama Footnotes highlights these diverging mindsets.
The co-stars of this indie film set at the height of the pandemic in 2020 are Will (Chris Leary), a 20-something building manager in Los Angeles, and his new tenant Apurna (Sharayu Mahale). They meet in February, when she moves in, and hang out to pass the time after the economy shuts down due to COVID. Early on, Apurna addresses the elephant in the room, saying that she will not sleep with Will. After clearing the air, the two hit it off, swapping stories and sharing intimate details about themselves over the course of several months. While their relationship is platonic, they clearly have romantic chemistry, evident when Apurna is silently jealous of Will having a date with another girl. Despite their budding unspoken romance, Apurna takes a trip home to New England to visit family around the holidays. Now apart, only time will tell whether their feelings grow or simply dissipate.
During the pandemic, many couples experienced severe turbulence in their relationships, as their increased time together exacerbated any conflict between them. Footnotes presents the flipside of this dynamic, illustrating how the pandemic also had the opposite effect of bringing two people together who likely would have never formed a bond. Both homesick and living alone, Will and Apurna become friends in large part due to going stir-crazy. Through his dialogue, writer/director Chris Leary takes viewers back to the very relatable phenomenon of the struggle to socialize after a lack of human interaction or to reexamination of their place in life, both of which many people experienced back in 2020. Just the same, Will and Apurna’s exchanges foreshadow what is to come in their relationship, particularly as they talk about their exes. Though there are no flashbacks in the story, the sentiments they share reveal their flaws as potential partners. Will puts people and his relationships with them on a pedestal, while Apurna hedges, staying non-committal. Their imperfections feel very real and apply to someone in most people’s dating history.
Even if the co-stars come off as flaky on one side or possessive on the other, Apurna and Will are operating in a very uncertain time period and have no idea of what the future holds. Remembering this uncertainty that many of us felt at the time makes their actions and emotions understandable. A new romantic connection can be exciting but also intimidating in what feels like an alternate universe, prompting people to return to what may be a more familiar past. Apurna is faced with such a mix of emotions as she reverts to her past by returning home. While Will seems too dependent on Apurna to maintain his emotional state, struggling to take care of himself when she leaves, his difficulties appear similar to the stories told by single people about their emotional challenges during the pandemic.
Despite its minimal cast, Footnotes also manages to depict cultural differences. Apurna’s Indian heritage is discussed in her conversations with Will and depicted when she returns home, both in a way that does not feel forced. While being traditional, her parents still have their own personalities, as is shown when Apurna’s mother engages in a Jane Fonda-like workout on TV, or her dad stares in confusion at the box of Special K cereal Apurna brings home with her. These slice-of-life moments keep all of the characters from feeling like stereotypes and keep the story from being too centered on Will’s perspective alone.
Footnotes feels most similar to the 2009 Joseph Gordon Levitt-led film 500 Days of Summer. Like Will, Tom (Levitt) is a hopeless romantic who has put his love interest on an unreachable pedestal and is crushed by reality. Sadly, Footnotes lacks a flash mob scene set to Hall and Oates but does deliver on the other emotional swings of a romantic drama.