Lotto Land

1996 Directed by John Rubino. Starring Larry Gilliard, Wendell Holmes, Barbara Gonzales, Suzanne Castallos, Jaime Tirelli, Luis Guzman, Paul Calderon.

REVIEWED By Patrick Taggart, Fri., Oct. 6, 1995

(This review is re-published from the March 17, 1995 Chronicle issue when Lotto Land debuted duing the SXSW Film Festival.) A missing $27 million lottery ticket is the linchpin for this warm, informed, and knowing look at two couples living in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood. The drug use and bursts of violence that one expects of Brooklyn sagas is dispensed with early on so that writer-director John Rubino can get about the relevant business of his story. At the center are a young black man and a Hispanic woman, both high school seniors, both living with single parents. These are the kind of people we have become accustomed to seeing as heroes among independent films set in economically oppressed, minority communities: Surrounded by crime, apathy, and a kind of happy-go-lucky nihilism, they manage to retain their innate goodness and moral rectitude. They want to do the right thing. It would give too much away to discuss the other couple. Suffice to say they are middle-aged, have lost their spouses, and are working to keep hope alive as they realize that the pleasure curve in their lives is rapidly flattening. That lottery ticket is a nifty plot device, and it never takes on the importance you might expect. This is a film about ordinary lives, not people acquiring riches. Without dissolving into sentimentality, Lotto Land brims with implicit love, hope, and optimism. Don't be surprised if this assured but unshowy film totally captivates you.

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