Gimme the Loot
2013, NR, 81 min. Directed by Adam Leon. Starring Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Zoë Lescaze, Meeko.
REVIEWED By Monica Riese, Fri., May 17, 2013
If The Wire and The Odyssey taught us only one thing, it’s that sometimes the journey is more meaningful than the destination. So, yes, in Independent Spirit Award and South by Southwest 2012 Grand Jury-winning narrative feature Gimme the Loot, young graffiti artists Sofia (Washington), a softer, perhaps not-too-distant cousin of The Wire’s Snoop, and Malcolm aka Shakes (Hickson), her hapless partner, are looking for some permanent street cred by planning to tag one of New York City’s biggest icons: the apple at the Mets’ Citi Field (née Shea Stadium). Trouble is, they need to come up with $500 to pay off a stadium employee; so begins their epic quest. The duo is pretty well doomed to failure by the epigraph, but it’s the gauntlet of NoHo flats, rival tagging gangs, stolen goods, and sirens they run across – sometimes literally – en route to that target that keeps us hooked. They’re in a constant battle of one step forward, two barefoot steps back, gaining and losing phones and bikes and weed and dignity throughout their trek, the latter at the hands of Ginnie (Lescaze), a well-traveled private school girl who goes from customer to love interest to heist target faster than you can slap a sticker on a street lamp. Sofia and Shakes face plenty of trouble on these hazy summer days in New York City, but even after the harshest rejections and most racist remarks (“I’m a lot cleaner than you,” shrugs one preppy girl at Malcolm), at least they know they’ll face their next villains together, and they can razz each other along the way. There’s a lot to be seen in the boroughs they traverse, and so much more we’d typically overlook – from the opening shots of Krylon cans to the last magnet-covered fridge – but first-time feature director Adam Leon’s shots are precise and full of detail; it almost doesn’t even matter what’s being said (which is good, because the dialogue sounds stilted at times). What’s important is the art, and Leon and his leads have a palpable passion for it, but they also aren’t afraid to stop and smell the carnations along the way. (A version of this review was originally published March 16, 2012.)