Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Movie Review: Tramps

Tramps
Directed by: Adam Leon.
Written by: Adam Leon & Jamund Washington.
Starring: Callum Turner (Danny), Grace Van Patten (Ellie), Michael Vondel (Darren), Mike Birbiglia (Scott), Margaret Colin (Evelyn), Louis Cancelmi (Jimmy), Rachel Zeiger-Haag (Vinessa).
 
Adam Leon’s Tramps, like his debut film Gimme the Loot, is the kind of cute, entertaining indie that wraps you up in its charms as its plays, but doesn’t stick around long afterwards. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the film is fun, and funny and loose, and has a nostalgia for old school (1970s) New York films, and has almost endless energy. When I saw Gimme the Loot, I liked it a lot, and expected to see bigger and better things from Leon in the future. I don’t know if Tramps qualifies as either of those things, but it’s at least equal to what he’s done before.
 
The film stars Callum Turner as Danny, a young guy, living at home with his Polish immigrant mother, and no-good-nik older brother. Danny dreams of becoming a chef, but right now he’s working a dead-end job, and cooking at home. His brother has gotten himself thrown in jail overnight, and needs Danny to do something for him. It’s a simple job really – all he has to do is get into a car with a guy, pick up a briefcase, and drop it off to a woman holding a green bag – and no, don’t ask what’s in the bag. It also stars Grace Van Patten as Ellie – the girl in charge of driving said car – who wants to the money she’s going to earn to get out of a bad life, and into a good one. The two don’t know each other before the job, and if everything goes right, they won’t see each other after. Of course, things don’t go right, Danny gives the bag to the wrong person, and they pair of them have to spend the rest of the movie trying to get it back. Their bosses are angry with them – but considering one of them is Mike Birbiglia playing a slightly skeezy version of himself, you don’t really worry that anyone is going to wind up dead because of the bag.
 
Basically, the film follows these two around New York City – into the suburbs and back again on their trek. They seem so different – she’s certainly more street wise and experienced than he is, and he is kind of sweetly na├»ve. The two grow to like each other in a way that ends with a moment so sweetly awkward it’s hard not to smile.
 
Leon is a natural filmmaker, and he fully embraces shooting in New York on a tight budget. He conspires to find a way that neither Ellie nor Danny have a cellphone, and gets winning and natural performances from his actors. It’s hard to find anything bad to say about Tramps except for the fact that it undeniably feels so lightweight and inconsequential. You enjoy its while its one, swept up alongside the characters, and then forget it when it’s gone. There are worse things a movie can do than that – even if I still want Leon to graduate to something bigger and better than his first two films, as charming as both are.

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