Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List- Kristin Hanggi, 2015
Netflix rates it: 4/5
I rate it: 3.5/5
Kristin Hanggi’s Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List follows Naomi (Victoria Justice) and Ely (Pierson Fode), best friends since childhood, as they begin their first year at NYU. However, their friendship suffers when Ely and Naomi’s boyfriend, Bruce (Ryan Ward), fall for each other despite the existence of the ‘no kiss list’ intended to avoid boy-related arguments. The beginning of the film shows Naomi particularly confused by what Ely refers to as “the wreckage of their lives”, and wants her friendship with Ely to remain the same despite the changes they are facing.
New York City is an important part of the characters’ lives and an integral part of the film, almost becoming a character itself with the amount of camera shots showing the cafés and shops they frequent, as well as dreamy depictions of Central Park. Based on a book by the same authors as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, it is unsurprising that New York is painted in the same adoring light as it is in their previous on-screen adaptation. At first, the city seems quite restricting as the characters limit themselves to certain places, but it soon opens up and offers new experiences as Naomi becomes more willing to give new things a chance.
The amount of attention paid to the small details of the main characters’ lives is impressive. Ely’s bedroom mirrors a typical Tumblr post and the extravagance of Naomi and Ely’s fashion choices serves to emphasise their exuberance and captivating presence. There is also an interesting incorporation of the past into their modern way of living, with the Doorman (Matthew Daddario) leaving Naomi classic cassette mixtapes and Bruce, a student filmmaker, using a vintage 16mm video camera, which adds a little extra to the film.
One of the great things about Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is the growth of the characters. Despite the fact Naomi and Ely are self-centred, over the top and slightly annoying, they are somehow likeable at the same time. Naomi clearly finds it difficult to live life without Ely constantly by her side, which on the one hand makes her seem difficult and selfish, but also a lot more relatable as losing a friend is a common experience. “We’re 21st century New Yorkers” she reminds Ely at one point, which is reminiscent of the entire film and its characters in its outright, straightforward and confident nature.
It is unfortunate that the main storyline takes a while to pick up and reach the core issue of Naomi and Ely’s fallout. However, the beginning of the film does introduce the characters well and presents the audience with their vital backstories, so is not tough to watch.
Although a superficial storyline on the face of it, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List depicts the transition between adolescence and adulthood, as indie films often do, with both characters having to help their parents sort out their lives while being so young themselves. Despite its fairly slow start, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List is a charming, fun to watch film showing how change can be a good thing. It does a great job of showing the important similarities between friendship and romance against the beautiful backdrop of New York City.