Trees Lounge Review

by Dave Cowen (esch AT fische DOT com)
October 29th, 1996

Trees Lounge (1996)
    A film review by David Cowen
    Copyright 1996 David Cowen

Tommy (Steve Buscemi) lives directly over the Trees Lounge, a local bar like any other local bar. He shares the counter with Bill (Bronson Dudley), an old timer who keeps a pile of bills on the bar to keep the drinks coming. When he's not drinking, he's stalking Rob (Anthony LaPaglia) who stole Tommy's girlfriend Theresa (Elizabeth Bracco) after Tommy stole 1500 dollars of his money. Tommy's a mechanic with a car that doesn't run, so his job prospects are pretty slim. Ultimately, he gets a job working as a Good Humor man after his Uncle Al (Seymour Cassel) who used to drive the truck dies. As he runs his route, Theresa's 17 year old niece Debbie (Chloe Sevigny) hops on board to smoke and run the route with him, and as they grow closer, Tommy's life starts falling apart.

The scenes between Tommy and Chloe have a genuine chemistry: a mascara-drenched Sevigny plays her lolita-esque part just right, Buscemi's Tommy can be genuinely funny in a resigned and awkward way, and the scenes between those two are by far the best in the film. Unfortunately, the film jumps from focusing on Tommy to the relationships between Rob and Theresa, Theresa's sister and her husband, and a relationship between bar regular Mike and his wife Marie. These scenes are handled with all the wit and care of a sitcom, and the acting and writing in these scenes are sub-par at best. The movie only seems interesting or even genuine when Tommy and Chloe are on the screen, and that's just a quarter of the film.

Strangely, the final shot of the film is one of the best I've seen -- a slow motion shot of Buscemi's face slowly and subtly contorting into expressions of confusion, derision and contempt -- a shot which unfortunately belies the nature of the rest of the film. TREES LOUNGE doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be bleak or a comedy. Most of the time it's a rather conventional and uninteresting comedy. Buscemi's film would have been much better off should he had settled on bleak.

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signed: ESCHATFISCHE, david h t t p : / /w w w . f i s c h e . c o m ([email protected]) ------------------------------------------------------

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