Gimme The Loot

Gimme The Loot

***1/2

Reviewed by: Neil Mitchell

Twenty four hours in the life of Malcolm (Ty Hickson) and Sofia (Tashiana Washington), two young graffiti artists from the Bronx, is the stripped back premise of Adam Leon's feature length debut Gimme The Loot. Vibrant, funny and ultimately touching, Leon's loose limbed narrative is an ode to both the tribulations of adolescence and the city in which it's set. The director/writer displays a keen eye for location and ear for sparky dialogue and his cast of first timers, non-professionals and fledgling actors bring a freshness and energy to Leon's screenplay. Ostensibly a 'mission' movie – Malcolm and Sofia plan to tag the giant plastic apple that pops up when the Mets score a home run in revenge for a rival gangs' trashing of their latest piece of art – Gimme The Loot is in actuality a condensed snapshot of the emotional ups and downs of its central characters. Both display the bravado associated with teenagers: Malcolm is quick-witted, cheeky of smile and always on the make, while the tougher, no nonsense Sofia is tomboy-ish, headstrong and aggressively foul-of-mouth.

Not a couple in the romantic sense, the thick-as-thieves pair need to find $500 to bribe a security guard to give them access to the Mets' stadium in order to complete their tagging mission – a mythical feat not pulled off in over 20 years. This MacGuffin of a catalyst allows Leon to push Malcolm and Sofia into a day of hustling, light fingered pilfering, gang related showdowns and quickly learnt life lessons as they bid to raise the cash required by the next morning. An assortment of petty criminals, low level drug dealers, moneyed college girls and lovelorn acquaintances help, hinder or confuse the pair's objective as they flit to and fro around the Bronx's streets, shops, apartments and parks. Backed by a soundtrack that could have been culled from any number of Seventies New York set movies, Gimme The Loot is both a throwback and a contemporary slice of life. The urban deprivation of many parts of the Bronx, overtly seen in Seventies/Eighties New York movies, rubs up against the city's modern gentrified air, exemplified by Malcolm's quickfire relationship with Ginnie ( Zoë Lescaze) - a privileged, pot smoking student who attracts Malcolm sexually and financially. Their interactions speak of embedded divisions between the haves and the have nots, but are handled in ways that never feel politicised or hectoring.

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Sofia's run ins with youthful muggers, angry gang members and more friendly faces highlight the roller-coaster lives of most adolescents, moving as she does from danger to confrontation and to respite as quickly as she scoots around the Bronx's streets. What marks Gimme The Loot out from most gang-related, urban or teen-oriented movies is the lightness of touch Leon's understated direction and astute screenplay bring to proceedings. What Leon, and his cast and crew, remember and instil in the characters is the sense of free-wheeling fun inherent to adolescent life. Things are not black and white here, Malcolm steals but is a hugely likable character, Sofia is in your face but noticeably softer-centred by the movie's conclusion. In other words, Malcolm and Sofia are like most teenagers; quick of mouth, big of heart, streetwise but naive and learning (through successes and failures) to make their way in a world run by adults while surrounded by their equally testosterone and hormone heavy peers. The moments of drama, danger and questionable morality are underpinned with the knowledge that Malcolm and Sofia are at heart good kids with real affection for each other, and presented in a gently knockabout way that keeps things from straying into tired urban- angst cliché.

The 'reality' on show in Gimme The Loot has a refreshingly balanced appearance – life for Malcolm and Sofia is alternately chaotic, humorous, sad, tough, irreverent and meaningful. We may only be with them for 24 hours, but you'll feel like you've known them for a lot longer.

Reviewed on: 02 Dec 2012
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A pair of graffiti artists attempt to pull off a daring tagging mission
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Director: Adam Leon

Writer: Adam Leon

Starring: Tysheeb Hickson, Zoë Lescaze, Joshua Rivera, Tashiana R. Washington

Year: 2012

Runtime: 79 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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