Amongst Friends

  • 1993
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime, Drama

A first film in the tradition of Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS, AMONGST FRIENDS is self-consciously gritty and skillfully put together, but ultimately shallow. Childhood friends Billy (Joseph Lindsay), Trevor (Patrick McGaw), and Andy (Steve Parlaveccio) are bad little rich kids; a bully, a sensitive dreamer, and a resentfully passive bystander, respectively....read more

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A first film in the tradition of Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS, AMONGST FRIENDS is self-consciously gritty and skillfully put together, but ultimately shallow. Childhood friends Billy (Joseph Lindsay), Trevor (Patrick McGaw), and Andy (Steve Parlaveccio) are bad little rich kids; a

bully, a sensitive dreamer, and a resentfully passive bystander, respectively. They're the Long Island reared sons of doctors and lawyers who reject their parents' mainstream values and aspire to be petty thieves like their grandfathers, the bookies and bagmen who lived to see their children

achieve suburban respectability and to tell their grandchildren what bores they became.

AMONGST FRIENDS opens with a montage of youthful male bonding scenes, then introduces us to high school rebels Billy, Trevor, and Andy at a party. Billy, who deals drugs, needs someone to make a pick-up. Andy doesn't want to go, so Trevor does, and is arrested. He's sent to jail for three years,

and when he returns home, everything has changed. Billy has expanded his business, and Andy runs errands for him; most of the rest of the kids with whom they went to high school have gone to college and are on the traditional path to successful lives and careers. Trevor's old girlfriend, Laura

(Mira Sorvino), is now dating Billy.

Andy, who chafes at Billy's domineering authority and hopes to banish the vague feelings of failure which plague him, concocts a scheme to buy drugs from a pair of local dealers, Vic and Eddie (Frank Medrano and Louis Lombardi), then go into business for himself. To come up with the cash, he

persuades Trevor and several friends to join him in a heist. The target: a local club owned by Jack Trattner (David Stepkin), an old guy given to loud sweaters and too much jewelry, but in fact not the ineffectual geezer he seems.

After the heist, the gang is quickly and brutally rounded up by Trattner's men, but to Andy's surprise--and good fortune--Trattner proves to be a friend of his grandfather's from the bad old days. He takes Andy and Trevor under his wing, allowing them to work off their debt and hinting that he

may take them into the business. Andy is thrilled, Trevor less so, since he's on parole and needs to stay out of trouble.

Trattner's sleek young right hand man, Michael (Michael Artura), is jealous, and plots to regain his favored position. Billy is angry at Andy for deserting him, and at Trevor for resuming his relationship with Laura. Michael and Billy get together and murder Trevor; when Andy finds out, he kills

Billy.

AMONGST FRIENDS has many virtues, including fine performances from the three leads and a well-observed sense of place. Its narrative is minimal and proceeds at a leisurely pace, but that's very much in keeping with the unfocussed and in-the-moment lives of its protagonists. While the central

relationships are nothing new, the boyhood comraderie that begins to unravel as adult concerns enter the picture is convincingly, if conventionally, delineated. AMONGST FRIENDS' greatest weakness is that it never addresses the larger context within which Billy, Andy, Trevor, and their friends and

acquaintances operate.

The primary difference between the Little Italy of MEAN STREETS and the Five Towns of AMONGST FRIENDS is that poor, socially oppressed people live in Scorsese's Little Italy; it's not hard to see why gangster life appeals to its ambitious young men. They want respect, money, status, power,

things; everything their parents don't have. Weiss' Long Island outlaws come from well-off, respectable families; they have money and cars and nice clothes. Their fathers are the lawyers who can steal more with briefcases than ten guys with guns. The idea that the children of upper-middle class

privilege romanticize and yearn to relive the desperado pasts of their grandparents is intriguing, but underdeveloped. What, exactly, is so wrong with their privileged lives that they want to be petty criminals? The result is that far from empathizing with their angst, one wants to slap them and

tell them to shape up. (Violence, profanity, nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse.)

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  • Released: 1993
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A first film in the tradition of Martin Scorsese's MEAN STREETS, AMONGST FRIENDS is self-consciously gritty and skillfully put together, but ultimately shallow. Childhood friends Billy (Joseph Lindsay), Trevor (Patrick McGaw), and Andy (Steve Parlaveccio)… (more)

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