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
I graduated High School in 1976. I grew up in Bay Ridge/Sunset Park. I am Irish. My father was a drunk. My hobby is painting. The opening shots of the Bridge and then a pan of OLPH hit a cord with anyone who knows the area.
I wanted to like this movie a lot. It was brought down by a kind of predictable plot and predictable characters. It was brought up by some great (but uneven) acting and the way that Bay Ridge itself becomes a character in the film.
In a bigger movie, Karen Allen might have gotten an Oscar nod for her performance as a good-hearted, long-suffering, worn down Mother. Leslie Murphy totally nails her part as a Brooklyn girl. Less successful are the male leads. Steven Lang overplays the stereotype tough working class drunkard dad. Geoffrey Wigdor channeled a little too much Fonzie/Adam Dice Clay into his characterization of a Brooklyn Punk. Nick Thurston is endearing as a somewhat wide-eyed caught in a moment I can't get out of Catholic School boy wanna' be artist whose life is made difficult by the people around him for no real explainable reason. But he doesn't even try for a Brooklyn accent, and that strikes me as a little out of place.
But the bar/party scenes, the neighborhood, the stoops and corners are the authentic feel of Bay Ridge, although, in it's entirely it's a much nicer more hopeful place than shown (although the 70's were it's low point). There are a lot of small moments in this movie that ring true. When Brian opens Danny's notebook that is a real punch in the gut. Two young guys sitting on a stoop talking...dead on Brooklyn, there. The idea that people would run naked through Greenwood Cemetery (one of the most famous busiest cemeteries in the country, which is crossed with roads) didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
Overall, I would recommend this movie for the acting and the little things that it got right, although you have to overlook some senseless derivative plot elements to enjoy it.
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