It's early autumn of 1975 in Brooklyn and 18-year-old Brian Leary (Nick Thurston) is killing time, pulling off petty crimes with his street tough older brother Danny (Geoff Wigdor), whom he both idolizes and fears. He doesn't really want to be a criminal, but he doesn't share the dreams of his old friends from their working class neighborhood either. They all yearn for the culturally approved 9-to-5 Civil Service jobs with benefit packages that will carry them through weekends of beer into lazy retirement. Brian doesn't want to end up in a soul-numbing job like his buddies, but he's sure he doesn't want to be like his best friend Todd (Zachary Booth) either. Todd has betrayed their blue-collar roots by accepting a scholarship to college. But Brian has a secret -- he's a talented artist. In the basement of the bagel shop beneath his parent's apartment, he creates impressionistic charcoal and watercolor images of the stifling city that surrounds him. When he puts on his headphones and ... Written by
This is an incredibly good movie, the kind they don't seem to make anymore, with a pretty simple, straightforward conflict, amazingly good acting and writing, and it evokes a time and place (Brooklyn 1977) perfectly.
At the top of a long list of very good performances are Stephen Lang as the alcoholic father, Karen Allen as the stoic but deeply-loving mother, the amazing Nick Thurston (who I had not heard of before) as the son, and Leslie Murphy as his love interest.
In smaller roles Peter Reigert and Geoffrey Wigdor are extremely good.
John Gray's script and direction are extremely moving without being overblown or showy.
This movie is very emotionally honest. It clearly was a labor of love for everybody involved.
Lots of movies seem to me to be overly clever and self-regarding, throwing curve ball after curve ball at you while they're looking in the mirror smirking. This movie is a fastball right over the plate.
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