When a movie or TV show is set in New York City—and if the people making it are savvy—real estate becomes part of the story itself. In Reel Estate, we look at some of the more memorable domiciles to grace the screen.
The first shot of the trailer for “The Loft,” a thriller starring James Marsden that opens January 30, shows a glistening Manhattan skyline. The plot centers on five friends, who split a glitzy apartment to host their mistresses, only to discover one of them handcuffed to the bed, dead in a Rorschach blot of her own blood. Only five keys exist for the loft, so who killed the girl? And how? And why?
The movie, a remake of a 2008 Dutch film, feels like it wants to be set in New York, but was reportedly shot in New Orleans. And with the exception of a fraught trip to San Diego, takes place in a geographic void, with plenty of shots of skyscrapers but no indication of where the characters live. No matter. For our purposes, this movie is about real estate, and is therefore a very New York movie. (And we had a chance to see a screening of it earlier this month.)
The film jumps between three different flashbacks, revealing how the friends get the loft, how they uncover the murderer, and the eventual police interrogation. Let’s focus on how they wind up with the apartment. Vincent (Karl Urban) is an architect, and during a swank launch party for his latest project, he brings his four buddies upstairs to the titular pad. He announces that he’s earmarked this unit as an “oasis” for their adulterous needs; everyone’s on the deed, and everyone gets a key. “No messy hotel bills, no questionable credit card activity,” he purrs.
Setting aside for a moment the shaky premise, we’re skeptical of this real estate transaction, to put it mildly. Developers have been known to snag condos in their own developments (at bargain prices, to boot), but we question whether this one would hand over the crown jewel of the building to his architect and four mystery dudes before any of the condos go on sale. (After all, developers usually reserve the penthouses to sell last, and for top dollar.)
If we give Vincent et al. the benefit of the doubt, we could imagine him paying all cash (to avoid a bank sniffing around the guys’ finances) and using some sort of corporate structure to sidestep questions about why five grown men are secretly buying a one-bedroom together. But seriously, it’s still a bad idea to buy an apartment without telling the person whose name is on the deed.
Still, after some moral quibbling—initially, none of the guys will admit he’s the kind of husband who cheats on his wife—the friends are in. (It turns out the randiest, heaviest drinking one is played by Eric Stonestreet, aka Cam on “Modern Family,” which is unsettling to watch, to say the least.)
At one point, as the men are trying to figure out which one of them killed the blonde on the bed, the buzzer rings. It’s a realtor! Apparently someone has put the loft on the market without telling them. (What?!)
But on to the loft itself:
We’ll hand it to the set decorators: this is definitely a spot we could see a Wall Streeter or real estate tycoon with weird bedroom tastes taking his conquests. It’s filled with the kind of impractical but sleek furniture that says, “I don’t live here but I paid an interior designer a helluva lot of money to go wild at West Elm.”
The bar is also a fitting touch:
Plus, unlike so many apartments marketed as "lofts," this place would likely even win over loft snobs. Take a look at the wall-free layout, where even the bed is in the open; the high ceilings, big windows and industrial touches like concrete floors and metal partitions; and the fact that the building itself looks to be a former office high-rise. The surest sign of a true loft? Its past life as commercial space. (We reached out to reps for the movie to find out exactly what building the filmmakers used, and they said the loft itself was filmed on an off-site set.)
And another upside? After a gruesome murder, this place may very well be for sale at a steep discount.