Synopsis by Josh Ralske
For his feature debut, writer-director Damien Chazelle has fashioned a contemporary musical, shot in 16 mm black-and-white on the streets of Boston and New York. During the film's opening credits, we learn that Guy (professional musician Jason Palmer), a trumpet player, and Madeline (Desiree Garcia), a grad student looking for work, have broken up. The film then flashes back briefly to show how Guy's dalliance with Elena (Sandha Khin), an outgoing young woman he met on the subway, caused the breakup. The film follows Guy and Madeline as they try to make their way, post-breakup. Guy continues to play his gigs, though Elena doesn't seem quite as interested in his music as Madeline was. Madeline finds a job at the Summer Shack restaurant, pines for Guy, but eventually decides to leave Boston for New York. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench features music by Justin Hurwitz and a score recorded by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra. Chazelle, who is also a jazz drummer (he appears briefly in the film), originally made the film as a short for his senior thesis at Harvard, where he studied under documentary filmmaker Robb Moss. Chazelle and his cast and crew worked on the film for three years, as financing permitted, to expand it into a feature. Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench had its world premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, where it was shown in the Discovery section.