Written, directed, and starring Radha Blank, ‘The 40-year-old Version’ or ‘The Forty-Year-Old Version’ is a semi-autobiographical film that tells the story of a playwright, whose failure to find success on stage ultimately leads her to the world of rap. While writing the script for the project, Blank heavily drew from her real-life struggle to establish herself in the theatre scene in New York. It was initially meant to be a web series comprising ten episodes.
However, Blank halted the production following her mother’s death. The film is exclusively set in New York and puts both the mainstream and counter-cultures of the city under a unique and satirical scanner. Curious to know whether the movie was shot on location in New York? Well, we have got your back!
The The Forty-Year-Old Version Filming Locations
The title of the film is a reference to ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’, the 2005 sex comedy starring Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, and Seth Rogen. ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’ marks Blank’s debut as a filmmaker. She has been part of the writer’s room for shows like ‘Empire’ and the Netflix’s 2017 series ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’ The latter project allowed her to work with Spike Lee, one of the filmmakers who have massively influenced her works.
Despite all these recent film and TV credits, Blank is a theatre personality through and through. ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’ documents her passion for theater as well as her frustration with a predominantly white theatre establishment. Blank and cinematographer Eric Branco filmed the movie on location in New York City. Principal photography concluded in late August 2019. The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it earned Blank the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award.
New York City, New York
In ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’, the city of New York manifests as a living, breathing character. The film is also made in black and white. In a recent interview, Blank explained her artistic choices, saying, “The reason I had to shoot the film in black and white is that there’s nothing more New York than a black and white film, and in my own way I’m retrofitting the film back into a canon that I love from the 70s and 80s, telling a story that should have been told all those years ago: this is another (type of) New Yorker. I’m a New Yorker. It’s just that the camera was angled in one direction and we had to pivot it over here.”
If one part of the film focuses on criticizing the theater establishment, the other peers into the multiethnic city culture almost like an objective observer. According to her, filming those scenes in black and white helped her bring out the controversial aspects of the theme. “Hip-hop is often oversexualised, oversaturated. Black and white brings it to a level of cool and vulnerability that we don’t often see it at,” she said.
Read More: Is The Forty-Year-Old Version True Story?