What is it with Hollywood? Do they think Montauk is Malibu, but on the East Coast? There was “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” from 2004, which got it almost right. Then there was the series “The Affair,” and that hopped in and out of Out East. Now “No Hard Feelings,” supposedly set in Montauk, couldn’t be bothered to make the effort.
The R-rated comedy, which opened on Friday, June 23, stars Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who says she was 29 “last year two years ago.” She answers an ad looking for a 20-something woman to “date” a couple’s 19-year-old sheltered son, to bring him out of himself. That is to say, to make their nerd of a son into a man. The actor playing the boy, Andrew Barth Feldman, was in fact 19, and put off going to Harvard to be in the movie.
The actor had a background in musicals and had appeared in “Dear Evan Hansen,” appearing on Broadway in the title role. So he was not a computer nerd, but he was a Broadway musical nerd, and had the scrawny, never-played-football physique that made him look like a 14-year-old.
Some critics were appalled by the sexual grooming depicted in the film. A older woman tries to force a younger man to have sex, they said, and they suggested that a plot with the sexes reversed would be rejected in our current “Me Too” environment.
Audiences for the most part weren’t buying it. They laughed.
The movie took in $15 million in its opening weekend against the kind of comic-book action-packed films that usually dominate the summer, along with a Pixar movie that opened for children. It also did surprisingly well abroad, perhaps because of advance word about Jennifer Lawrence’s nude wrestling scene.
But that is not our concern here. What we are talking about is how much of the actual Montauk do we see in a movie supposedly set in Montauk? The movie shot for ten weeks, and spent one in Montauk. We have proof that Jennifer Lawrence was here, via Hollywood Pipeline, which blabbed that the nude scene was shot on a beach in the hamlet.
That news is highly suspicious, since no other outlet has mentioned it. On the other hand, if a film company is going to shoot a nude scene of Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps a beach in Montauk is the best place to do it .
Here is Hollywood Pipeline’s photo proof that the stars of the movie were in fact in Montauk. Note the shark backpack, obvious in the scene shot at the Montauk lighthouse, up top.:
Other moments in the movie that might actually have been shot in Montauk, are this one with Jennifer Lawrence tending a bar. It is possible that this is Salivar’s Clam & Chowder House, but that is up on a hill, and this one looks out on a harbor. Anyone have a suggestion?
And here, where she is talking to a friend played by Natalie Morales, it is possible they are on Gosman’s dock. Or it could be any outdoor table at any restaurant on any dock. Anywhere.
Josh Dorn, the location manager, told Newsday, “We kind of faked Montauk all through Nassau County.” For convenience of cast and crew.
Ted’s Fishing Station in Point Lookout was gussied up to look like Montauk Dock East. The North Shore Animal League stood in for our own Animal Rescue Fund or the Southampton Animal Shelter. Uniondale, Hempstead, and Lawrence saw heavy use. This garage, let’s face it, has that “anywhere” sort of look.
So if the film makers shot only one week in Montauk, they made good use of that one week. They certainly put in the lighthouse. Maybe they used Gosman’s dock. That bar might be somewhere in Montauk, and if anyone recognizes it, please let us know. Otherwise, sand is sand. A plaid tablecloth and sun-bleached wood can look like any sea-side town from Maine to Key West.
— Linda Lee
Linda Lee is a former writer and editor at The New York Times