SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK
When TV producer Tommy (Edward Burns) breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, he moves in with his Casanova-like colleague Carpo (Dennis Farina), who gives him some tips to mend his broken heart. Tommy meets school teacher Maria (Rosario Dawson) at the local video shop, who recently divorced from Benjamin (David Krumholtz). Benjamin becomes obsessed by a cute waitress (Brittany Murphy), who is having an affair with Griffin (Stanley Tucci), an arrogant dentist married to real-estate agent Annie (Heather Graham). All these lives intersect at a traffic light where love is a colour.
Review by Louise Keller:
With its candid fly-on-the-wall approach, Sidewalks of New York is an insightful and often amusing observation of the love game. Shot in just 17 days with a wobbly, handheld camera and a rock solid cast, we meet and become involved in the lives of a handful of characters who are eventually all linked together in some way. At times the camera becomes one of the characters, and through the lens, we glean some intimate revelations. At first I found the constant panning of the camera rather irritating and distracting, but as the story progresses, we get a sense of the rhythms and pace of life in New York. Some of the observations are almost Woody Allen-like, and Edward Burns’ concept is well realised, as we tumble tumultuously through the turbulent cyclic circle of meeting, dating, marriage, commitment, breaking up and starting over – not necessarily in that order. We meet characters each at different parts of the circle, and it’s not until half way through the film that all the pieces start to fit. We feel as though we know these characters – from Burns’ Tommy who is recovering from a break up, to aspiring rock star Benjamin (David Kumholtz, appealing) whose reality is a daily grind as a doorman. Each of the characters plays a pivotal role, none more so than Stanley Tucci’s slimy, two-timing dentist with a penis size-obsession, whose excuse for infidelity lies in his ‘European’ approach to marriage. Tucci is a master at layering character, and while his Griffin may be a pathetic loser, Tucci makes him very human. Even though we may not like Griffin, we do want to know what happens to him. Burns makes us care for all his characters and they all become real to us: they are not glossy or particularly articulate, they look and talk like people we know. Or feel as though we know. Some of the lines are classic and dig deep: ‘men are like a disease – most of us are infected, but there’s no cure’. The resolutions are satisfying but not contrived – let’s face it, life does not necessarily deal out story-book happy endings. And when the cycle of love and life is done, we continue to wander along the sidewalks.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Having walked the sidewalks of Australia for eight years in search of revealing and intimate conversations with strangers for my SBS program, Front Up, I immediately felt a connection with this film’s stylistic approach. People talking to the camera on the sidewalks of New York, on their way somewhere else, revealing bits of their lives, much like my subjects do. These short extracts are interwoven into their actual lives, though, in a total departure from Front Up. Indeed, I am not making any undue comparisons between my program and this film, and I mention this because I felt surprisingly distanced from the film for the first half. In fact I thought it would not work for me, failing to interest me in the characters. And then it began to draw me in, and by the time it ended, I was convinced and enjoyed a cinematic essay on how aspects of life really are for these characters. The truths of the screenplay are tangible, the performances outstanding and the absence of manipulative devices refreshing.
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SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK (M)
CAST: Edward Burns, Rosario Dawson, Dennis Farina, Heather Graham, David Krumholtz, Brittany Murphy
PRODUCER: Margot Bridger, Cathy Schulman, Rick Yorn
DIRECTOR: Edward Burns
SCRIPT: Edward Burns
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Frank Prinzi
EDITOR: Daivid Greenwald
MUSIC: not credited
PRODUCTION DESIGN: not credited
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 23, 2002