Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Film Review: STATEN ISLAND (2009) [a.k.a. LITTLE NEW YORK]

Writer/Director: James DeMonaco
Running time: 93 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

France release date: 5th August 2009

Watched on Sky+ Wednesday 29th December 2010.


I hadn’t heard much about this film before viewing it, but I do remember seeing a clip somewhere or other. It follows the lives of three people living on the island and shows what happens when their lives intersect. It is made in a very interesting style, almost what I would expect to see from a French studio, but when I saw that one of the producers was none other than Luc Besson, I was less than surprised. But more of my thoughts later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters please protect this small forest while I write the next paragraph).

Sully Halverson cleans septic tanks for a living. He’s not the sharpest blade in the box, but when he and his wife, Mary, decide to have a baby, he begins to get ideas. He sees a treatment program they are running at the hospital that genetically changes an embryo so the resultant child will be smarter. Now, if only he could get some money to pay for it… Parmie Tarzo is an ambitious mob boss. He lives alone with his mother and wants, more than anything, to be famous. His mother was recently shot during a robbery at his house and Tarzo and his gang are after the perpetrators. After he decides to take over the entire Staten Island operation and an attempted hit by a rival gang fails, he kind of loses the plot a little. He is found on a platform up a tree, trying to protect an area of forest due for demolition… Jasper Sabiano is a deaf mute who works in a deli and does ‘disposal’ jobs on the side for Tarzo. He has a liking for gambling on the horses and when he wins big he feels he might be able to help his friend Sully… These three characters are about to collide and things will never be that same for any of them.
As I said at the beginning, this film has very much the feel of a French art house film, but its set in New York. It’s kind of strange to watch if you’re not used to that sort of thing, but if you stick with it, it will pay off in the end. Great performances from all of the main cast; Ethan Hawke plays the dumb Sully Halverson with great aplomb, Vincent D'Onofrio is perfect as Parmie Tarzo and Seymour Cassel is superb as Jasper Sabiano. Oh, and an honourable mention must go to Julianne Nicholson as Mary Halverson.

Over all, I really enjoyed this film. It has quite a gentle pace that I found quite fitted the style adopted by the director. I loved the way the characters at some point all look wistfully across towards Manhattan, as if wishing they could be over there. It’s not perfect by any means, but enjoyable none the less… Recommended.

My score: 6.9/10

IMDb Page:
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