We had high hopes for an energetic evening on Monday night when we arrived at The Sunshine Cinema for the New York Premiere of Another Happy Day, an indie film about a dysfunctional family starring Ezra Miller and Ellen Barkin and written and directed by Sam Levinson. The Observer arrived eager to meet and greet the stars of the winner of the Sundance Prize for Best Screenwriting, but the night delivered a more low-key evening than we anticipated.
Opening the iron doors to the foyer, we were greeted by a solitary publicist, placed behind a desk, monotonously flicking through her guest-list. Meanwhile, an older, red-haired lady with a sense of importance and a crutch traversed the foyer looking for any sign of life.
Were we at the right place? Had we got the right time? Was there such a thing as Another Happy Day?
Our inquiries were met with a reassuring smile and a gentle nudge downstairs, where the red carpet had been positioned. A pack of snap-happy photographers seemed just as eager as us to begin the scheduled celebrations. They lifted their lenses at the sight of The Observer’s entrance, only to fall once they realized we were not the star they were looking for.
Then out of the corner of our eye, we saw the fledglings of the film, child actors Dan Yeltsky and Shaun Rodgers, purchasing buckets full of popcorn. Just a quick conversation with them showed that these two had “clicked,” since working together. “I think what Dan is saying is…he’s like a little brother to me now,” began Mr. Rodgers.
“He clarifies what I say,” said Mr. Yeltsky.
As we talked, the rest of the cast came in, met by a similarly dull reception to the one we had endured. The sense of anti-climax was further cemented as director Sam Levinson wouldn’t talk to us and the rest of the cast rushed, like children just home from school, into their co-stars’ arms. The film has received a lot of attention since Sundance and we surmised that this demure affair could be a display of the collective weariness towards the project.
The Yeltsky/Rodgers duo took time to describe the film for the us. “It’s different. In a good way.”
Parker Posey provided some much needed insight. The actress who admitted she “doesn’t know anything about the film,” offered “But Christmas comes right after Halloween.”
The press wanted two people—premiere host Julianne Moore and the movie’s star Ezra Miller. Neither arrived and there was a growing feeling of impatience. Ms. Moore was delayed at a film set and wouldn’t be joining until after the screening. Mr. Miller was late too. So we waited, chatting with friends and family of the cast as well as other well-wishing art-types, none of whom knew anything about the film.
Artist turned filmmaker Julian Schabel, who was dressed in painting overalls offset with a smart jacket, spoke about the premiere he (and we) went to the previous night for My Week With Marilyn. He described Michelle Williams’s performance as “off-the-chart brilliant.”
Buoyed by the (admirably late) entrance of the star of Mr. Miller, we craned our necks to get him in view…but it was Lorenzo Martone, a mistake that we imagine has never been made before. The impersonator dodged the press when Miller himself entered the hall. Smiling and collected, Mr. Miller, who has two premieres on consecutive nights, both of which see him play a malevolent son in a complex family setup, responded with due poise to our question: Are you in danger of being typecast?
“Yes,” he said. “I think all actors are in great danger of being pigeonholed. There is an unfortunate tendency to cast an actor in a role you know he can do…I’m not happy about it.”
So what is your ideal role?
“Edgar Allen Poe, the dark years,” he said. “When I grow a moustache, I’m after Poe.”
A party at the rooftop bar of The Standard followed the quiet screening — a venue that could be seen as over the top—but celebrations of the film continued into the night with some uncharacteristically lively dancing. In the end we even learned that the lady with a crutch, who greeted us on our entrance, was in fact the mother of actress, Ellen Barkin.