Critique: ‘Trees Lounge’ (1996)

DOWC American Ind 1.jpg
Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 1, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2010

Steve Buscemi’s first directorial and screenwriting outing trades on the one thing that we know about Steve Buscemi: that he is ‘kinda funny looking’ and, as such, will probably have calamity befall him in nearly every role that he plays. If Reservoir Dogs (1992), In the Soup (1992), Living in Oblivion (1995), and Fargo (1996), demonstrate the development of a star persona in which Buscemi’s characters strive to achieve and are met with immense difficulties along the way, finally succeeding or failing through the capricious nature of luck alone, then Trees Lounge features a character that has already fallen foul of his anti-heroic qualities and from the mire of his baseness cannot help but transform redemptive possibilities into further degrading misadventures.

When Tommy is offered the opportunity to metamorphose from habitual barfly to an ice-cream vendor of social standing, he sleeps with a seventeen-year-old girl who, despite his manboy mentality, is not only considerably younger than himself but is also the daughter of his ex-girlfriend’s sister. Tommy’s flaws drive the narrative of the film, yet he still remains endearing because, instead of fully indulging in his errors, he charismatically flounders about, trying to rectify his previous mistake whilst making two more…

 

The full 700 word version of this review is published in Directory of World Cinema: American Independent 1, edited by John Berra, published by Intellect Books, 2010. 

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