Non-linear surrealism and narrative filmmaking can sometimes be a deadly combination, but not in this arresting, visually assured debut from Jon Shear. A hypnotic trip through one man's discovery of the bizarre rhythms of New York City, where boundaries of reality and myth blend into each other, Urbania is very close in style and composition to Atom Egoyan's stunning 1995 film Exotica but with a mystique all its own. The film gives true meaning to the phrase "independent cinema," as it feels like almost nothing before it. Dan Futterman excels in a difficult lead role, as he must take his character through a potentially self-destructive odyssey while retaining the audience's sympathy; he's backed by a gifted cast that makes the most of their minimal screen time. Urbania loses some momentum as it grows nearer its foreshadowed conclusion, but the execution remains original and inventive. Winner of Best Film honors from several U.S. gay and lesbian film festivals, and an official selection for the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, Urbania bears the distinction of being only the second film after Star Wars: Episode I to make use of that film's revolutionary all-digital post-production techniques.
by Jason Clark review