At a critical mid-life moment. Drew (Henry Jaglom) leaves L.A. and flies to Manhattan in hopes of starting his life anew. He has sublet an apartment beginning January 1, but finds that it is still occupied by three young women who insist that their lease runs through the first. The next 24 hours will have a lifetime's impact on Drew and the women: Annie (Gwen Welles), Winona (Melanie Winters) and most especially Lucy (Maggie Jakobson), as the film explores modern life, love... and New Year's resolutions!
New Year's Day
is verbose, discursive, and even a little insightful. It can only be the handiwork of idiosyncratic independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom. Tired of his miserable life in Los Angeles, newly single writer Drew (Jaglom) moves back to New York--on New Year's Day. Due to a misunderstanding, his apartment is still occupied three tenants: Annie (Gwen Welles), Winona (Melanie Winter), and Lucy (Maggie Wheeler, Chandler's whiny girlfriend Janice on Friends
). With nowhere to go until they move out the next day, Drew gets to know the women. And vice versa. He's bewildered by the overly-emotional Annie and forthright Winona and attracted to the compassionate Lucy, who plans to relocate to LA. Over the next 24 hours, a variety of people drop by, including Lucy's mother and father, building supervisor Lazlo (Oscar-winning director Milos Forman), and unfaithful ex-boyfriend Billy (David Duchovny, Wheeler's actual ex, who rejoins Jaglom for Venice/Venice
). Shot like a documentary, New Year's Day
feels improvised, which is its biggest strength--and biggest weakness. Duchovny, who has a brief nude scene, looks perpetually bemused, while Jaglom comes off like a patronizing parental figure. Which may be the point. At times, it resembles real life; at others, a party to which you weren't invited. So, Jaglom's third in a semi-autobiographical trilogy, after Always
(1985) and Someone to Love
(1987), may not be a complete success, but it's an entertaining diversion, and Wheeler shines in a rare lead role. --Kathleen C. Fennessy