Newness, which debuted at Sundance in January and was picked up by Netflix in June, is about the early days of a relationship between 20-somethings Martin (Nicholas Hoult) and Gabi (Victoria’s Laia Costa). They take shots and sit outside at nighttime asking each other questions like “Have you ever been in love?” The typical stuff!
But things are complicated because they met on a fake dating app called Winx, in which you select dates by swiping right for “no” and left for “yes.” It’s the mirror image of a different dating app you might be familiar with. Oh, no. Gabi and Martin are both charming and charmed by each other, but how long can that last when Gabi says she’s always on the hunt for “that constant newness?” They deleted their dating apps together, laughing, but all of a sudden they’re making up complicated rules for an open relationship, throwing stuff, and crying, all to the sounds of a high-stakes indie heartbreak song.
The movie was inspired by Nancy Jo Sales’ controversial 2015 report for Vanity Fair, titled “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse.’” Director Drake Doremus told Movie Mezzanine earlier this year that Sales’ piece was his first exposure to the discourse around dating apps, saying, “The article was fascinating to us because [the film’s screenwriter] Ben [York Jones] is in a long-term relationship, and I just ended one a little bit ago, so we just kind of missed that whole thing.”
But though this trailer is cut in a way that makes dating apps seem like autonomous villains intentionally making romantic connection impossible, Doremus explained the movie in totally different terms in that interview, saying, “It’s of the moment, but the same issues we deal with of intimacy, what we share and don’t share, how we relate to each other — they’re kind of timeless, in a sense.”
So, putting the cringeworthy title, trailer, and user interface aside — it’s possible this could be an interesting and sensitive modern love story?
Jones and Doremus worked together previously on 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winner Like Crazy, which stars Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin as star-crossed lovers struggling with the byzantine American immigration system. They also collaborated on Intel’s “The Beauty Inside” short film / advertisement series, which takes place entirely on a Facebook timeline.
Netflix has not yet announced a release date for Newness.