Though director/actor/writer Adam Christian Clark’s Newly Single is supposedly semi-autobiographical, I hope that his character is more fiction than not. In the film, which is currently on iTunes, the main character comes across as narcissistic, manipulative, and selfish. Considering how critical the movie is of his wicked ways, I can only assume that Clark has put forward the worst version of himself to gain some catharsis and create a deeply personal look at a young filmmaker trying to live and love in Los Angeles.
Astor (Clark) is a director currently in pre-production on his next film. It sounds like it will be his biggest project yet. Along with all of that pressure comes even more involvement from actors and their controlling managers. Astor seems self-assured in his skills as a filmmaker, despite his mother wondering if he’s going to start looking for an office job soon.
This career trajectory is an important backdrop, but the focus of Newly Single is primarily Astor’s dating life. Just as the title implies, Astor’s long term relationship with his girlfriend (Molly C. Quinn from Castle) has just ended. True to form, his stubbornness and close-minded ways were direct causes of the breakup, though he refuses to see it that way. In fact, despite all of his flaws and shortcomings, he’s the kind of guy who never believes that anything is his fault.
As he begins dating before the bed has cooled, Astor’s personality issues keep getting in the way of any sort of meaningful connection to women. It’s painfully clear that he has no intention of ever letting his emotions get exposed to a woman again, yet he pursues women who want more than just a hookup. His old fashioned, anti-feminist ways are misinterpreted as hipster irony, only to have that reality crash down around him as women realize that he’s not joking. He goes to bars, tries Tinder, and even revisits an old fling whenever he gets horny enough to try his best to never be alone, and never be without that female attention he craves.
Though Newly Single mostly shows Astor as a flawed and vapid guy, his smooth-talking exterior has some leaks around the edges that show just how scarred and lonely he really is. He gets out his anxiety through exercise, and the multiple shots of him jogging at all hours of the night expose his poor coping habits for what they are. Even during a tender reunion with his sister (the only character to whom he’s completely honest), he’s still only thinking of himself.
This honest character examination of a man juggling career highs with personal lows is well acted, well written, and engagingly edited in ways that stop it short of being just another masturbatory examination of a filmmaker’s battle with his inner demons in contemporary Hollywood. Clark seems to have enough of a critical eye to look at the various shortcomings of Astor, and unapologetically portray the character as the jerk that he really is. Perhaps one day Astor will be as good of a director as Clark has shown himself to be in Newly Single.