Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

2009, Romance/Drama, 1h 22m

23 Reviews 1,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Bursting with scrappy energy and shot with preternatural skill, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is an auspicious debut for director Damien Chazelle. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

This musical romance centers on the breakup of a jazz trumpeter, Guy (Jason Palmer), and a graduate student, Madeline (Desiree Garcia), after Guy gets involved with another woman, Elena (Sandha Khin). It's the eternal story of love lost. In the aftermath, Guy continues to play gigs, though his relationship with Elena never sparks in the same way it did with Madeline. The directionless Madeline bops along and gets involved with another musician, eventually leaving Boston for New York.

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Critic Reviews for Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

Audience Reviews for Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

  • Jul 05, 2017
    Damien Chazelle's first feature length film isn't an easy one to dissect. Filmed like an early John Cassavetes' movie and told with little to no dialogue at all, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is much more so an exploration into how difficult it is to maintain love than it is a musical like Chazelle's latest feature, La La Land. But it's Chazelle's grasp on the ups and down's of relationships that make this yet another interesting directorial effort from him. All 3 of his films to this point have involved Jazz, and all 3 of them have also dealt with characters trying to balance their love life with pursuing their Jazz related dreams. 'Guy and Madeline' isn't as intense as Whiplash nor as viscerally memorable as La La Land, but for a first-time feature, it definitely impresses. An occasional dance number, unique camera movement, and long unedited takes make for quite the viewing experience. Again, there's little dialogue, so I can't say I was as invested in the characters as I should have been, but sometimes scenes are more powerful when less is said (see: the final scene). If anything, this was an interesting watch considering all we know about Chazelle's career up to this point. 6.7/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2012
    Look, I have a soft spot in my heart for any movie made nowadays in black and white. And it helps that "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench" has a certain retro charm with its keenly styled musical numbers. But those oh so brief interludes cannot make up for the muddled narrative of the break up of Guy(Jason Palmer), a trumpet player, and Madeline(Desiree Garcia), as they go their separate directions. That's not to mention the amateurish camerawork.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • May 08, 2011
    Mixing two separate yet compatible elements, Guy and Madeline fuses the cinema verite style of a gritty black and white documentary and the brash tones and rising melodies of an MGM musical, all in one sitting. Though the full impact of said MGM style was lost in the fray of tying the stylings together, the overall effort was astounding. The numbers had an originality that was more Miles Davis than Irving Berlin, which flowed well with the grainy shots of Boston. Threaded into the romantic entanglements of the two main characters was a deep love and appreciation for jazz, fueling the storyline forward by making some of the musical numbers performances that could indeed happen in real life, including a party scene and a jam session. Madeline's two songs on the other hand take place as she walks the streets, and my all-time favorite "When I Kissed the Boy in Park" while closing down a diner she waitresses in. There were some great scenes, including a game of 20 Questions between Elena and a strange old man, and Guy trying to track down Madeline. Altogether, it was confusing when addressing the dying relationships that lead to a reunion of the musicians, but the cute factor kept me watching.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2011
    This 16 mm, black and white musical about a young couple's dissolution and reunion is something wholly magical and keenly in tune with the beats and rhythms of NYC. Combines Jazz, French New Wave, and old Hollywood musicals into a vibrant and lively romance brimming with joy.
    Matthew L Super Reviewer

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