Somewhere In The City

Having fled his native Iran and landed in NYC's East Village, director Ramin Niami wanted to make a film about his new hometown and figured "The Lower Depths" -- Maxim Gorky's play about gutter-life in turn-of-the-century Russia -- would be a good place to start. The result has little to do with Gorky, and the story is riddled with holes. But it's still...read more

Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

Having fled his native Iran and landed in NYC's East Village, director Ramin Niami wanted to make a film about his new hometown and figured "The Lower Depths" -- Maxim Gorky's play about gutter-life in turn-of-the-century Russia -- would be a good place to

start. The result has little to do with Gorky, and the story is riddled with holes. But it's still an oddly endearing comedy. In a Lower East side apartment building, a group of marginalized New Yorkers lead lives of not so quiet desperation: Nosy, lovelorn therapist Betty (Sandra Bernhard) has

sworn off of one night stands, and this time she means it. Jaded Shakespearean actor Graham (Peter Stormare) hopes a role in the big-budget film version of I Dream of Jeannie will be his ticket to stardom. With a little help from Betty, recent immigrant Lu Lu (Hong Kong superstar Bai

Ling), who's angling for a green card husband, goes from shy, pig-tailed innocent to haute couture cookie. Rich-kid, Guevara-wannabe Che (Paul Anthony Stewart) has ideals but no clear political agenda, while unhappily married Marta (lovely Italian film star Ornella Muti) has hitched her wagon to

an unlucky star -- a bumbling thief named Frankie (Robert John Burke). The film takes its time getting started, then decides it doesn't really want to go anywhere; the story is too thin to support so many characters; Stormare's performance feels badly improvised; and the whole thing ends with a

dumb and already dated topical joke. But enough about the film is just right -- the fabulously eclectic cast (Bernhard is as dry as a bone and hilarious), swank look and exciting soundtrack (it's nice to hear Yoko Ono played straight) -- to make this quirky bit of fluff hard to refuse. It may look

ugly out there, but Niami assures us the city is chockful of beautiful losers.

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