In a bustling wasteland of stolen cars, mechanics and street hustlers, Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), a tough and ambitious street orphan, and his older sister, Isamar (Isamar Gonzales), must rely on each other to survive.
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The brother/sister scenes are gorgeous. But overall the characters lack depth and personality. They look right but I can’t feel any back-story or point. There is no danger, tension or atmosphere in the story-telling. As a simple observation of a day in some people’s lives, it works. But it is boring and doesn’t actually feel honest - I don’t understand some of the reactions of the characters.
I had the privilege to see this film at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder last April. Roger Ebert, along with the director, went through a four day decomposition and discussion of the film. I probably would not have realized the genius of this film had it not been for this four day exercise. Bahrani's neo-realist/cinema verite approach demonstrates great expertise and mastery.
En "Chop shop" Bahrani parece remontarse en lo que había realizado en "Man push cart". Hay un olor a neorrealismo en la historia de personajes pertenecientes a un contexto difícil. Existe sin embargo el optimismo por la superación; un food truck. Sucede un conflicto y raíz de esto su protagonista principal asume un perfil sórdido. Como en lo italianos, la inocencia se extravía. El final sin embargo lo redime.
Chop Shop would make a splendid companion piece to the outstanding Gimme The Loot. Set in a similar part of New York, it's a sublime character study that not so much explores the loss of youth but more the absence of education and how street smarts can only get you so far. Well acted, nicely shot, but the ending was as sudden as these things tend to be these days.
A realist American indie movie this film feels too restrictive, oppressive & limited. We hardly have a chance to know what happens around the corner & beyond from this garage in Queens, New York. Despite the excellent acting by the young Alejandro Polanco, a tour de force transmitting raw angst & primal energy, the film lacks dynamism, originality, a touch of magic to lift it up from its bland mundanity.