Despite all this talk about pickup lines, sex, and bewildering breakups, Velez never follows any of her subjects on a date or in a relationship, no matter how brief. Closest to an arc is a disturbing look at a spreadsheet, in which a young man has plotted details across all of his dates to map out a relationship success strategy. In relentless close-ups, Velez presents a window into the lives of these New York lovers, who struggle to keep harassing mothers and unwanted speculation out of the picture. It is first of all interesting. But since the document does not develop beyond the introductions, it is ultimately superficial and deeply unsatisfactory.
Fortunately, “R # J” handles what “Searchers” doesn’t attempt: it gives us an arc of romance born and nurtured online. Co-written and directed by Carey Williams, this contemporary version Romeo and Juliet reinvents Shakespeare’s tale of lovers crossed by stars, told in the form of images found on social networks. Romeo (Camaron Engels) falls in love with Juliet (Francesca Noel) at first sight, especially looking at her Instagram page, where she posts touching works under #J. They speak nicely through text messages, gifs, memes, and emojis. Their passionate explanations to friends are expressed through Facetime or Facebook Messenger. And, of course, the fierce clashes between the Montagues and the Capulets are captured in live streams, to which random Veronians can comment with virtual hearts or thumb bites.
This dramatic rebranding turns Romeo’s first crush, Rosaline, into an Instagram hottie, whose spicy flow inspires eggplant emojis. Juliet’s fiancé Paris becomes a face-tattooed Spotify rapper, the genre recently mocked on “Saturday Night Live” as comically ignorant. However, the center pair are feeling ambiguous amid so many shows and social media spoofs. With an open face and a dreamy eye, Engels plays Romeo as a sweet boy, who will melt the heart of a girl with his sweetness, but whose love is worryingly easy. Noel proves his perfect match, playing Juliet like a note: hopelessly romantic. Which is odd considering the film delves into the real sparkle of their romance.