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The Rewards and Perils of Bonded Kids Who Never Grow Up
SLINGSHOT explores the ups and downs of the lives of two boys, close friends since childhood, both from homes where they were unwanted, who made it through reform school and remain as a unit into an adult life as petty scam artists - living on the edge of crime and a life of desperate need for belonging. The script by Jay Alaimo (who also directs), Matt Fiorello, Matthew Martin is gritty, full of humor and fine interchanges between the characters that manage to lift the story to a higher level of social statement than the usual 'crime buddies tales'.
Ashley (David Arquette) and Taylor (Balthazar Getty) are the borderline 'bad guy duo' who have decided to move their scam of charming lonely housewives while robbing them to Fairfield County, Connecticut: the scam is that Taylor seduces the women while Ashley robs the preoccupied women. One of Taylor's hits is bored and married Karen (Julianna Margulies) whose second marriage is passionless making her an easy target for Taylor's charms. All goes according to plan until Taylor realizes he cares for Karen and Karen (with a lot of encouragement from girlfriend Emma - Joely Fisher - for an affair) falls for Taylor. The nightly signal from Karen that the coast is clear for Taylor to join her in bed is a light from her bedroom, yet when that goes on one evening, Taylor meets Karen's young daughter April (Thora Birch) in her mother's bedroom and barely escapes discovery when Karen and husband come home early. April at first mocks Taylor's attraction to her mother, but gradually the two bond - the first time that Taylor has been close to anyone except Ashley.
While Taylor is 'prepping' Karen for robbery Ashley is mixing with their 'crime bosses' Dickson (Michael Janik) and Fast Bobby (Svetlana Metkina) and feels the threat to perform. Several incidents lead to the final confrontation between Taylor, now enamored with April, and Ashley, who finally comes to grips with the fact that he is love with Taylor. The long-standing duo hits a schism and how that resolves provides a disturbing ending.
The four leads - Arquette, Getty, Margulies, and Birch - offer performances that are more than simple outlines of disconsolate characters: they inhabit their roles, finding cores of credibility that allow the viewer to understand the needs and fears of these isolated people. The cinematography by Paul Daley is appropriately grimy and the film editing by Jim Rubino takes Jay Alaimo's direction to a more cohesive whole. While not a great movie by any means, it is a touching character study of what happens to unwanted kids whose lives are dependent on each other in a world that rejects them. Grady Harp
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