Liberty Kid

  • 2008
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ilya Chaiken's follow-up to the sharply observed MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR (2002) is a surprisingly expansive study of two young Latino men who lose their low-level service after 9/11. Tico (Kareem Savinon) and Derrick (Al Thompson) grew up together in Brooklyn and, in their late teens, both dropped out of high school, live at home...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ilya Chaiken's follow-up to the sharply observed MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR (2002) is a surprisingly expansive study of two young Latino men who lose their low-level service after 9/11.

Tico (Kareem Savinon) and Derrick (Al Thompson) grew up together in Brooklyn and, in their late teens, both dropped out of high school, live at home and work at the concession stand on the Statue of Liberty ferry. While Tico is content to drift through life, partying, fooling around with girls and protecting his tough-guy reputation, Derrick is studying to take the GED so he can go to college. He's also struggling to help his overwhelmed mother (Rosa Ramos) and support his twin 3-year-olds, who live with an ex-girlfriend. When the first plane hits the World Trade Center, their supervisor assures his staff that it's just an accident; when the dust clears, the Statue of Liberty has been closed to visitors and Derrick and Tico are out of work. Nine months later, Derrick is still looking for a decent job and Tico is drifting into small-time drug-dealing; Derrick reluctantly becomes his partner.

The film eventually covers several years in their lives, encompassing small victories, bitter betrayals, family unheavals, imprisonment, marriage and military service. Chaiken keeps the focus tightly on Tico and Derrick throughout: 9/11 and the Iraq War impinge on the film to the exact degree that they irrevocably change the young men's day-to-day lives — it's not that Derrick and Tico are thoughtless, only that they don't have the luxury of thinking too much about the big picture when the small picture is always on the verge of collapsing. Far from trivializing world-changing events like the navel-gazing A BROKEN SOLE (2007), Chaiken's focus drives home the fact that collateral damage comes in many forms and marginal lives are easily derailed. And though she keeps the Iraq War entirely off screen, Chaiken's single shot of the smoldering towers — which Derrick watches through a coin-operated viewer — packs a visceral punch.

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  • Released: 2008
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Brooklyn-based filmmaker Ilya Chaiken's follow-up to the sharply observed MARGARITA HAPPY HOUR (2002) is a surprisingly expansive study of two young Latino men who lose their low-level service after 9/11. Tico (Kareem Savinon) and Derrick (Al Thompson)… (more)

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