Tribeca Movie Review – The Hollywood Reporter
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted, among many other aspects of life, the way people communicate. As conversations migrated to Zoom, nonverbal gestures – eye contact and subtle facial expressions – were harder to discern, making it harder to talk about needs and set necessary boundaries. For the moment, a new film directed by Taylor Garron and Chanel James, deliciously, if slightly predictable, tackles these challenges.
Like many New Yorkers, Naomi (Taylor Garron) spent the early days of the pandemic trying to avoid boredom by concocting a routine, leaning into retail therapy, and dressing just to feel living. She dances around her apartment, cooks semi-elaborate meals, FaceTimes with her family, and plans virtual happy hours with her friends and cousin. She also started a video diary, although she’s not sure why.
For the moment
The bottom line
A refreshing lesson in pandemic communication.
We meet Naomi in her Brooklyn apartment on the 83rd day of quarantine. The city has just gone through the worst of the first wave of the pandemic, the weather is warming up and there is optimism and turmoil in the air. Naomi, through her video diary, tells us about the new false eyelashes she bought, the miss of her roommate and friend, Sara (Eva Victor), who is locked up in Florida with her parents, and her growing feelings for Reed. (Amir Khan), a man she met on a dating app. Just before she locks herself into an anxious spiral about the future, Naomi ends the recording and the film begins in earnest.
For the moment is built almost exclusively with video calls of varying degrees of quality, a format we’ve already seen with success in other pandemic films (like Language course). Garron, who wrote the screenplay, has written for satirical websites such as The Onion and Reductress. As a result, she masters a particular type of millennial language, in which life is experienced and treated as a series of extended pieces. Naomi’s first conversation with Sara swings between seriousness, biting punches, and conscious observations dripping with sarcasm. Sara describes how she has become a teenager since returning home, and Naomi laments all the wealthy people in their neighborhood who have run away to their summer homes. “Like me,” Sarah beams.
The jokes end, however, when Naomi tells Sara that she wants to meet Reed for an in-person date at the park. Sara immediately expresses her disapproval, citing rules for staying indoors and wondering aloud about the perspective of it all. Naomi, in shock, contradicts her friend by trying to emphasize her hypocrisy: “Things are pretty open there,” she notes, referring to Florida’s lax rules regarding COVID-19. “I saw, I think it was a few weeks ago, you posted on your Instagram a video of you and your hometown friends at that bar.”
The passionate exchange ends without a solution and sets the tone for the film, which chronicles Naomi’s efforts to stand up to Sara. It’s here that For the moment becomes interesting, hauntingly realistic in its portrayal of how people overwhelmingly fail to talk to each other.
The film does not bow to easy tales of good or bad people; instead, it focuses on the messy and imperfect relationships we have with each other – how old friends fall into comfortable and sometimes unhealthy dynamics and how difficult it can be to change them.
Naomi seeks advice on what to do about Sara from everyone in her life – from her fierce cousin (Paula Akpan) to her stern but loving best friends (played wonderfully by Quinta Brunson and Ayo Edebiri) – then keep taking nothing. It’s a familiar position to most avoidant communicators (myself included), in which the talking circles around the situation seem a lot easier than, you know, the actual confrontation.
And, of course, Naomi’s issues with Sara aren’t really about the date. They go further: Sara, who is white, often acts righteously and has a superficial self-awareness, relying on Naomi for control. Naomi, on the other hand, struggles to keep it real and reflexively subverts her own needs to keep the peace.
The film is charming, in large part thanks to the talented actors and the ease with which they play each other. Brunson and Edebiri, in particular, offer moments of laughter out loud during their video chat with Naomi. The young women go smoothly from jokes to reflections on the protests they’ve attended and offer insightful advice on how Naomi can talk to Sara.
Garron and Victor’s portrayal of friends struggling to understand each other’s point of view is refreshingly honest and appropriately. Conversations are at the heart of For the moment, and Garron manages to capture how they come and go with the various rhetorical quirks that people develop. There are times when the dialogue, in an attempt to provide context, becomes overly explanatory and sounds awkward. And there’s a chance some find this movie – with its very online jokes and seemingly endless irony and self-mockery – too meta in its portrayal of anxious, flawed millennials living in unprecedented times. To me, these qualities were indicative of a movie that didn’t take itself too seriously, which made it all the more fun to watch.