Directed by: Buddy Giovinazzo
Starring: Tim Roth (Joey Larabito), James Russo (Tommy Larabito), Deborah Kara Unger (Lorraine)
Country: USA; Effed Up American Cinema
Language: English (Optional Eng Subs)
Genres: Siblings, Drugs/Peddler
Plot – Spoilers:
Having served six years for murder, Joey returns to his underclass neighborhood where he finds his brother, Tommy, now a married man living in their family home with his attractive wife, Lorraine. Tommy doesn’t seem up to anything much in particular and this reflects in the unease between the couple. But there’s also enough to keep them a couple and Joey recognizing this is reluctant to be a wedge and hopes to keep his stay there as short as possible. Which in a way is symptomatic of his tendency to withdraw and play second fiddle to his elder brother.
Lorraine, initially hostile to a returning murderer, grows to be more tolerant of Joey with his passivity and willingness to be helpful around the house. The sibling dynamics though are evident early on:
Joey’s expression when he first meets his brother.
When Tommy offers him a beer, Joey who hasn’t had one in six years refuses it, noting it’s the last beer lying around.
At a bar, while Tommy regales everyone with an exaggerated story about a fight he was in, Joey sits there rapt in attention, holding on to every word he’s hearing.
But there are a few secrets from the past that no one apart from the brothers are privy to, and which even Joey, is unwilling to verbalize to himself. And so, the casual exchanges between the brothers and Lorraine at home shroud the simmering tension that all family secrets come gift-wrapped in.
This is a fairly quiet movie that is meant to run deeper, which it does, through the performances from its three leads. Six years – Joey’s prison term – can seem like a long or short period depending on your age. In Joey’s case, it feels like a long time as he wanders around town and sees that while some things haven’t changed, most of the people he knew have moved on to new lives. Joey’s impassive face riding on a pronounced stoop set against shitty people that might be living shitty lives, but who are living a life alright, is what this movie is mostly about – freedom lost that need not have been, and the lack of acknowledgement for it.