Tale of despair ‘Downtown’
Joey Dedio’s “Downtown: A Street Tale” is as maudlin and overly familiar as it is earnest. As writer as well as star, Dedio expresses passionate concern for the lost young souls of Lower Manhattan but by and large doesn’t define his characters strongly enough to involve the viewer in their fates very deeply. Too much of the time they simply seem to be a generic bunch of losers, caught up in drugs, fleeing awful homes and on a downward spiral.
Dedio’s Angelo may be a male hustler, but he also has a paternal streak, taking home lost kids to his makeshift apartment in an apparently abandoned building. The key figure, however, is Aimee Levesque (Genevieve Bujold), the strong, wise and dedicated director of a shelter named Haven House. She does everything she can for the young people Angelo collects, as well as many others, and is steadfast in her belief that Angelo can get his own act together and have a future. Although Dedio’s other characters are too sketchily drawn, he has written a good role for Bujold, whose appearances on screen have grown increasingly rare. With silver hair and little or no makeup to soften the lines of age, Bujold remains a commanding presence. Although he has little discernible sense of style, Rafal Zielinski seems a capable director of actors, at least in the film’s less theatrical moments.
A plot of sorts gradually emerges, focusing primarily on two couples: Flora Martinez and Chad Allen play a pair caught up in drugs; Domenica Cameron-Scorsese (Martin’s daughter) and James Ransone are waif-like newcomers to the area. Not enough is revealed about them, but Martinez’s Maria and especially Cameron-Scorsese’s Cheri are appealing. There are solid but brief cameos from John Savage and Burt Young.
It’s always a pleasure to see Bujold -- especially in a major role -- but that’s not enough to recommend “Downtown: A Street Tale.”
“Downtown: A Street Tale.” MPAA rating: R for language, sexual content, drug use and some violent images. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. Exclusively at the Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.