Bobby (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Kate (Lynn Collins) flip a coin on the Brooklyn Bridge and then run off in separate directions, each embarking on a different version of the same July 4th. In one version, the pair go to a family barbeque at her parents’ house, rescuing a dog along the way. In the other, the two find a cell phone in the back of a cab that seems to hold information very valuable to some very bad people and are chased through Manhattan by a gunman intent on getting the phone back. In both stories, the two struggle with the fact that Kate is pregnant and can’t make up her mind about the baby.
An experimental project, the film is notable because while the narratives are scripted, the dialogue was largely improvised by the actors. The cameras are hand-held and the locations around New York and the surrounding boroughs are very real. The film moves fairly effortlessly between domestic drama and on-the-run action, and while it seems to meander a bit too much, the overall effect is quite fascinating.
The strongest part of the film are its leads: both Gordon-Levitt and Collins are magnetic and clearly comfortable with their roles. The chemistry between them is palpable; viewers won’t be able to take their eyes off of them. The supporting cast is very good as well. There is a scene at the family barbeque where everyone is sharing stories and talking over one another, and as the camera lingers at the table with these characters, one never gets the sense that the actors are struggling to come up with things to say to each other.
Some viewers will struggle with the fact that a movie so worried about decision making seems to have a hard time making up its mind about what it is, but isn’t that sort of the point? The movie is so watchable that it’s worth not focusing on the underlying meaning and just enjoying an interesting, intriguing story.