Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench

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Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench Theatrical Poster.png
Official poster
Directed byDamien Chazelle
Written byDamien Chazelle
Produced by
  • Damien Chazelle
  • Mihai Dinulescu
  • Jasmine McGlade
  • Jason Palmer
  • Desiree Garcia
  • Sandha Khin
CinematographyDamien Chazelle
Edited by
  • William Adam W. Parker
  • Damien Chazelle
Music byJustin Hurwitz
  • Varilight Films
  • Olive Productions
Distributed byVariance Films
Release dates
  • April 23, 2009 (2009-04-23) (Tribeca)
  • November 5, 2010 (2010-11-05) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • French
Box office$35,556[2]

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is a 2009 American independent black-and-white romantic musical film directed, written, produced, shot, and co-edited by Damien Chazelle in his feature directorial debut, and it recasts the MGM musical tradition in a gritty, vérité style. It stars Jason Palmer, Desiree Garcia and Sandha Khin. The film features a unique mixture of live jazz performances and choreographed tap dancing, as well as several more traditional musical numbers.

It had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, 2009. It was then released in a limited release on November 5, 2010, by Variance Films.


Set in modern-day Boston, Massachusetts, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench tells the story of Guy and Madeline, a couple who has been dating for three months. He's an up-and-coming Boston jazz trumpeter, she an aimless introvert looking for work. The excitement of first love has faded, and Guy's wandering eye is caught by Elena, a more outgoing woman. When Elena and Guy meet on a crowded subway car, sparks fly—and that spells the end of Guy and Madeline's romance.

With Guy unexpectedly off in his new relationship, Madeline tries to rebuild her life. She changes apartments, searches for a new job, takes up an instrument, and goes on dates. Nothing clicks—until she travels to New York on a whim and meets a Frenchman named Paul, whom she feels an instant connection to. Meanwhile, Guy begins to wonder if he has made a mistake. Elena shows no interest in his music, and time and again the memories of Madeline come calling.

By the time Guy resolves to win her back, Madeline has seemingly moved on. He knocks on her door, but she's nowhere to be found, as she's preparing to move to New York City. He finally runs into her on a forgotten corner, where the two former lovers are faced with the question of whether they should let the past go, or rekindle their lost romance.


Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench was shot on black and white 16mm film stock.[3] Chazelle, who originally planned the project as his thesis film while an undergraduate at Harvard University,[4] briefly left Harvard to focus on finishing the film.[5]

The film features a cast of non-professional actors, though several are accomplished in other fields. Jason Palmer, who plays Guy, is a noted jazz trumpeter who was named one of the Top 25 Trumpeters of the Future by Downbeat Magazine in 2007,[6] and was the first trumpet player to be hired by acclaimed guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to perform with his quintet.


The film features all original music, composed by Justin Hurwitz with lyrics by Chazelle.[7] The orchestral score was performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, while the jazz numbers contained in the film were performed by the cast, often live.[8] The soundtrack for the film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released through digital download on March 24, 2017, by Milan Records.[9]


The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23, 2009.[10] It went on to screen at the AFI Fest on October 30, 2009.[11] It also screened at the Thessalonki International Film Festival, Mar del Plata International Film Festival, Torino Film Festival (where it won the Special Jury Prize[12]), Mill Valley Film Festival, Starz Denver Film Festival, Viennale, Sarajevo Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival (where it was a nominee for the Mavericks Award), International Film Festival Prague, and the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (where it won the award for Best Fiction Feature).[13] In March 2010, Variance Films acquired distribution rights to the film.[14] The film was released in a limited release on November 5, 2010.[15] The film was released on DVD by Cinema Guild on May 3, 2011.[16]

Critical reception[edit]

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench received positive reviews from film critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of 23 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The website's consensus reads, "Bursting with scrappy energy and shot with preternatural skill, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is an auspicious debut for director Damien Chazelle."[17] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 83 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[18]

The film premiered to a strong critical reception during its festival run. The Village Voice called the film "the kind of movie a young Cassavetes might have made were he working for MGM's Freed Unit".[19] The Boston Globe called it "the most buzzed-about movie at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival".[20] Time Out New York called it "blissful, brilliant", and noted "one sequence involving a tap dancer, a jam session, and a house party is arguably the most joyous five minutes you're likely to experience in a theater".[21] Several reviewers called the film a "mumblecore musical".[22][23][24] Amy Taubin of Film Comment, John Anderson of Variety, David Fear of Time Out New York, and Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News named it the best undistributed film of the year in 2009, and indieWIRE named it the #3 Best Undistributed Film of 2009 in its year-end critics' poll.[25]


  1. ^ Lincoln, Kevin (January 9, 2017). "What You Should Know About Damien Chazelle's Little-Seen First Film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  2. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  3. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Cinema Guild. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  4. ^ Wire, Indie (April 17, 2009). "Tribeca '09 Interview: "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench" Director Damien Chazelle". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  5. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench by Damien Chazelle". Harvard. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jason Palmer at All About Jazz". Archived from the original on February 28, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  7. ^ Tiffany, Kaitlyn (December 15, 2016). "If you love La La Land, give Damien Chazelle's 2009 East Coast musical a chance". The Verge. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  8. ^ "'Guy And Madeline': A New Wave Spin On The Musical". NPR. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". FilmMusicReporter. February 8, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  10. ^ Weitzman, Elizabeth (April 23, 2009). "The Big Picture: Tribeca Film Festival heats up". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  11. ^ Galuppo, Mia (November 16, 2016). "AFI Fest: 'La La Land' Finally Makes It to Los Angeles". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  12. ^ "Film Festival in Torino 2009". December 11, 2009. Archived from the original on October 8, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  13. ^ "CIMMfest - Chicago International Music & Movies Festival". Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
  14. ^ Knegt, Peter (March 11, 2010). "Fest Fave "Guy and Madeline" Lands at Variance". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  15. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (November 4, 2010). "The Blissed-Out Rhythms of the Young and in Love". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  16. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Cinema Guild. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  17. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 13, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Metacritic. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  19. ^ "Stuff We Like". Village Voice (April 22–28). Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  20. ^ "Harvard graduate's film debut is the talk of Tribeca Film Festival - The Boston Globe". April 26, 2009. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  21. ^ "Today's Tribeca Pick: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench". Time Out New York. April 23, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  22. ^ "Short takes: 'Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench,' 'Jews and Baseball,' 'Outside the Law'". November 5, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  23. ^ Schager, Nick (October 31, 2010). "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench | Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  24. ^ J. Hoberman (December 23, 2010). "J. Hoberman's Top 10 Movies of 2010 - Page 1 - Movies - St. Louis". Riverfront Times. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  25. ^ "Best Undistributed Film - Annual Critics Survey 2009". indieWIRE. Retrieved February 23, 2011.

External links[edit]