Film Review: Write When You Get Work

STUDIO: Abramorama | DIRECTOR: Stacy Cochran | CAST: Rachel Keller, Finn Wittrock, Emily Mortimer, Scott Cohen, Jessica Hecht, James Ransone
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 23, 2018
SPECS: NR | 99 min. | Romance/Crime/Comedy

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):

Director Stacy Cochran (My New Gun, Drop Back Back Ten) returns after an 18-year hiatus with Write When You Get Work, a heist film where blue collar transgression meets white collar crime, and it was certainly worth the wait. The film follows a former couple, Jonny Collins (Finn Wittrock, The Big Short) and Ruth Duffy (Rachel Keller, TV’s Fargo) years after their separation. Ruth eschews her youthful past of delinquency, now working as an assistant for an affluent, upper crust all-girls academy in Manhattan. She appears to be getting by, underpaid for her efforts and seemingly friendless beyond the general geniality of co-workers, but able to afford a studio apartment in Manhattan. Jonny, meanwhile, remains straddling the line of lower-middle class, still living in the Bronx, still associating with old friends, and still grifting his way through life to provide for himself and others. The two live lives separated by class and income, only to cross paths once more following the funeral of a mutual friend, and Jonny seeks Ruth out for reasons that are a guessing game throughout the film.

Rachel Keller and Finn Wittrock in Write When You Get Work

Write When You Get Work is a narrative that is timely in its discussion of classism, and Cochran’s use of 16mm film grants this movie a grainy New Hollywood aesthetic. This helps make the film feel grounded in reality, and also makes it a pleasure to watch, particularly its opening scene which establishes the relationship between Ruth and Jonny during their youth. Rachel Keller, Finn Wittrock, and Hugo‘s Emily Mortimer (as a self-centered wealthy young mother appropriately named Nan Noble) all give wonderful performances; Wittrock in particular excels in walking the line between likeable and annoying, which works perfectly for the character of Jonny.

While is a decent slow burn heist movie, it does feel a bit lacking as a romance movie. Wittrock and Keller do have amazing chemistry together, but their tension works more as past lovers on opposing sides, not as a couple you would want to see back together. And for a film that does seek to explore the issues of class divide and opportunity, it didn’t show much from the supporting cast in the lower-income family Jonny is supposedly trying to help.

Small quibbles aside, here’s hoping Cochran’s return to the silver screen is the only the beginning of a fruitful filmmaking future.

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