Six Ways To Sunday

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime, Thriller

This preposterous updating of Charles Perry's 1962 pulp novel Portrait of a Young Man Drowning, about an unbalanced youngster taken up by Jewish gangsters in 1930s Brooklyn, is the kind of movie that gives black comedy a bad name. 18-year-old misfit Harold Odum (Norman Reedus) lives with his overprotective mother, Kate (Deborah Harry), working at a local...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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This preposterous updating of Charles Perry's 1962 pulp novel Portrait of a Young Man Drowning, about an unbalanced youngster taken up by Jewish gangsters in 1930s Brooklyn, is the kind of movie that gives black comedy a bad

name. 18-year-old misfit Harold Odum (Norman Reedus) lives with his overprotective mother, Kate (Deborah Harry), working at a local burger joint to support her. The blowsy Kate, a onetime prostitute, smothers her boy with a creepy mix of maternal and erotic affection whose pathological roots are

not what you'd call subtle. Harold's life appears to be looking up when he's taken under the wing of local tough guy Abie the Bug (Peter Appel), but his troubles are actually only beginning. Harold's explosive temper is an asset in the leg-breaking line of work, but his new criminal cohorts

quickly begin to have doubts about his bizarre behavior, especially around women. Though Perry's novel is by no means a forgotten masterpiece, it contains the elements of a perfectly watchable, seedy crime thriller. But director Adam Bernstein misses no opportunity to botch them at every turn:

Setting the story in the '90s makes its ham-fisted Freudian underpinnings painfully apparent, Harold's tentative relationship with the crippled Iris (Elina Lowensohn) just seems ridiculous, and Deborah Harry's crude performance as the monster mama is an unequivocal disaster. The art of mixing

comedy and brutal violence is, ironically, a very delicate thing, and Bernstein -- who earned his stripes directing music videos and made his feature debut with the disastrous IT'S PAT -- doesn't have the touch for it. He appears completely unable to tell the difference between the grotesque and

the hip, and handles Harold's shadowy alter ego Madden (could he be a figment of Harold's diseased imagination?) so coarsely you almost wince.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: This preposterous updating of Charles Perry's 1962 pulp novel Portrait of a Young Man Drowning, about an unbalanced youngster taken up by Jewish gangsters in 1930s Brooklyn, is the kind of movie that gives black comedy a bad name. 18-year-old misfit Harol… (more)

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