Film Scouts Reviews

"Trees Lounge"

by Benjamin Ibrahim

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'A bleak comedy,' Steve Buscemi calls his directorial debut film about the struggles of a small-town sleazeball. Buscemi's career recently has had him playing various renditions on the slimeball, and, since his fast-talking performance as Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs, Buscemi has established a niche for himself in Hollywood with his characteristic brand of biting humor. A true character actor, Buscemi has caught audiences' attention with a form of candid bitterness that seems somehow more true-to-life than the previous tough-guy clichés.

In Trees Lounge, Buscemi personalizes the sleazeball, lets us learn to decipher the sarcastic defense mechanisms, and allows a glimpse into the life of a cynical small-town drunk in search of a job and a reason to straighten out. Tommy, played by Buscemi, has lost his job, his girlfriend, his self-respect, and his credibility as a mechanic. He spends his days drinking with his fellow alcoholics in the bar above which he lives, the Trees Lounge. He is a sorry bastard. At first the film seems to be one long drawn-out bar scene that could be viewed in person by a visit to the local bar in any small town. But if you stay and drink long enough in that small-town bar, the Raymond Carver stories will eventually emerge from the woodwork, as they do marvelously in Trees Lounge. Slow-paced, well written, and subtle, Trees Lounge is a darkly funny film. It is sad at the same time, the humor tragi-comic and not at all spoon-fed. It leaves you free to make your own value judgments, (which the people in the movie seem to have trouble doing.) Good performances by Carole Kane, Mark Boone Junior, and Chloe Sevigny (Kids).

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