City Paper is not for tourists
It’s the loneliest number, of course, and this laconic drama is as lonesome and plainspoken as a Hank Williams tune. Director and co-writer Tony Barbieri’s low-budget debut, which has been knocking around the film-festival circuit for a couple of years, is a tale of two all-American losers, told in a deadpan European style. Coolly and deliberately, the film follows Nick (Kane Picoy), a failed baseball player who now works as a trash collector, as he drives to a penitentiary to collect his longtime friend Charlie (Jason Cairns), who was convicted of the mercy killing of his beloved, desperately ill grandfather. Charlie moves in with Nick, but the pals soon drift apart; the latter’s bitterness clashes with the former’s enthusiasm for making a new life. The two people who spur the estrangement are Charlie’s sympathetic new girlfriend (Autumn Macintosh) and Nick’s spiteful father (Paul Herman), who can’t let his son forget that he coulda been a contender. There’s also one other force shaping the central characters’ fates: a group of ex-cons who want to even the score with Charlie for a prison incident. The dilemma is that, while everything from the circumspect camera placement to crypto-minimalist score seems continental, the protagonists are all too boy-next-door-ish Californian. The movie’s detached; the characters are just dull.