Oldenburg As explained by director Stacy Cochran (“Boys”), “Write When You Get Work” bases its title on a century-old saying. Go into the world, find your destiny and let me know when you have arrived.
It also means: don’t bother to check in, if you have not. And that’s pretty much what Ruth (Rachel Keller) could and should have said when she ended her relationship with her high school sweetheart Jonny (Finn Wittrock). Instead she packed up and left, gave their baby up for adoption and reinvented herself as a career woman in Manhattan. For years they were a few miles apart, but lived on different planets – the tony East Side as opposed to the working-class Long Island suburbs.
She comes back for the funeral of a mentor and friend – and inadvertently reconnects with Jonny, who has remained a smalltime hustler and criminal. But he still has feelings for her and quickly sidelines the leggy brunette he’s with to get back into Ruth’s life – but also to look for a big score in her highly monetized environment. Before Ruth knows it, he has infiltrated the preppy school she’s working it, seduced one of the soccer moms and has figured out how to scam a few cool millions from the “one percent”, who are in turn scamming the government.
“Write When You Get Work” is quirky, romantic and fun to watch – but it is also incredibly observant. When visiting either of the two worlds Cochran masterfully describes, we are immediately transported there. When in Long Island, we smell the sea along with some garbage left out too long; when in Manhattan, we are bombarded with the odor of Chanel, Armani and money.
Jonny and Ruth live between both worlds – her having escaped one, but being pulled back by an umbilical cord not completely severed; Jonny having geographically remained there, but always dreaming of the bigger and the better.
And that always included Ruth, the love of his life, former partner in crime and perpetual soul mate. Which is where Cochran finds the elements of an improbable love-story; one that follows the old recipe of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, but inserts enough spice, twists and turns to make the film truly surprising when you least expect it.
Finn Wittrock (“The Big Short”) is wonderfully devious, but also incredibly charming as the never-do-well Jonny, while Rachel Keller (“Legion”) portrays Ruth brilliantly as a good girl with some remaining mischief still hidden in her heart.
“Write When You Get Work” is a caper-movie rolled into a social drama, garnished with comedy and a surprising filling of romance once you bite down on it.